A pretty shocking finding just reminded us that there is one aspect we all need to be mindful of when cannabis gets legalized – driving after smoking pot.

So much is about to change now that cannabis is set to be legal, and so much of it is going to be amazing for our nation’s health, BUT: a pretty shocking research finding just reminded us that there is one aspect we all need to be mindful of, post-legalization. Yes, the very real problem of hitting the road after too many hits.

In Washington, after recreational use was legalized in 2014 an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) study found that the number of fatal car crashes involving a driver who recently smoked pot doubled from 8% percent in 2013 to 17% in 2014. It also found that 1 in 6 drivers involved in a fatal crash in 2014 had been using the drug. Ugh. So, there was a link between driving after smoking and car accidents here, and that could indicate a potential problem for us, post-legalization. Something to be aware of before you set off on your summer road trip.

Especially since: It seems to be the case that in Ontario, people don’t think driving after smoking pot is a particularly bad idea at all. A poll of 1,000 drivers commissioned by the CAA found that 29% of current cannabis users believe their ability to drive is the same after using marijuana as when sober, 12% of who are current users said they didn’t know if there was any difference between their ability to drive after using marijuana, and 8% of current marijuana users believe they drive better after using marijuana.

Which leaves… only 52% of current marijuana users in our province who believe (or at least, who reported believing), that smoking pot negatively affects their ability to drive. Woof.

So, yes, driving responsibly is up to us and us alone – we need to be honest about how alert we can be behind the wheel and only WE can determine that, but this is largely, more generally, a public education fail. Why don’t we talk about driving and cannabis use? Well, we don’t talk about cannabis much at all  – because technically, we aren’t allowed. Again, UGH. 

The fact that there is a pretty prominent public dialogue around drinking and driving allows us to be a little more protected and informed around this particular danger, but there’s obviously a lack of public education around cannabis and driving that we really need to have. Here’s hoping our fatal car crash rate doesn’t have to increase here in Ontario, and across Canada for that matter, for that to start.

Because the reality is: accidents can happen super quick, and we all need our reflexes in good condition when driving, right? Attentiveness, perception of time and speed are all affected when we smoke pot, and that could compromise our alertness and other functions we totally need behind the wheel. Know yourself and your limits and protect yourself, and your fellow drivers this summer. BECAUSE WE CARE ABOUT YOU.

Categories: CANNABIS