The legalization of Marijuana and the effect it can have on a country is a long-standing debate with both sides, for and against, having provided many supporting points and claims. In such situations, it is often difficult to determine whether or not Marijuana should be legal as the research work is not substantial, and there are very contradictory viewpoints of the public and government individuals.
However, Canada has legalized marijuana, and so have 18 state governments in the USA. While the legalization of marijuana can have led to many changes in the state/country that need to be researched, let’s look at one recent research specifically.
Driving high after the legalization of Marijuana:
Since the legalization of marijuana, research has been conducted to test whether marijuana’s legal usage can cause significant risks to citizens. One such area of research is driving high while under the influence.
Recently, on January 13, 2022, a research article published by HealthDay News established a link between the increase in the number of high drivers and the legalization of marijuana. The number of drivers driving and ending up in road accidents has significantly increased in jurisdictions where marijuana has been legalized.
The research led by Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher, a renowned associate professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in the department of emergency medicine, has had some alarming findings. The research findings establish that ever since the legalization of Marijuana in Canada in 2018, the detection of THC – the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis – in injured drivers has doubled.
Further similar research also supports this finding. Another study conducted in the US found that the risk of fatal vehicle accidents has increased by 15%. The rate of associate deaths has increased by 16% in the states of the USA, where cannabis is legalized. Another Study in Canada also published that within the 6 months of legalization of Marijuana in Canada, a significant increase in the number of accidents was observed.
“The number of road injury charges against high drivers is significantly higher in most USA states where Marijuana is legal,“ says DUI attorney Omeed Berenjian from BK Law Group. “This means cops may be more likely to crack down on vehicular crime in areas where marijuana use may be legal but misunderstood.
While this body of research finds that the legalization of marijuana causes an increase in road accidents as more drivers drive high, it is essential to note that no conclusion can be made. Based on this research alone, there may be external factors or confounding variables affecting the results. For instance, the amount and the timing of marijuana consumption mat play a vital role. Research has found that THC levels lower than 5ng/mL did not increase the risk of crashing, however levels of 5 or more than 5 increase the risk of accidents.
The time of consumption also cannot be fully tested as, like alcohol meters, there are no tools to immediately measure the THC levels of the driver on the road. In most cases, the levels are measured a few hours after the accident. Additionally, THC traces can be present even weeks after the last use, and hence the results of the tests can be highly misleading.
Hence, until further research on this topic provides significant findings, it is recommended that driving should be avoided for at least 4 hours after smoking marijuana and 8 hours after ingestion. Combining the trio of alcohol, pot, and driving should be avoided as it can prove fatal or highly damaging.