Marijuana Use Doubles Risk of Car Crash, Study Says

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance globally and recent statistics have shown a significant increase in use across the world. Rates of driving under influence have also increased, the paper said.

Drivers who consume marijuana within three hours of driving are nearly twice as likely to cause a vehicle collision as those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to a paper published recently in the British Medical Journal.

The paper's authors reviewed nine studies with a total sample of 49,411 people to determine whether the consumption of cannabis increases the risk of a motor vehicle collision.

This is the first review to look at various observational studies concerned with the risk of vehicle collision after the consumption of cannabis. Previous studies have failed to separate the effects of alcohol and other substances from the use of cannabis, resulting in a lack of agreement, according to BMJ.

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance globally and recent statistics have shown a significant increase in use across the world. Rates of driving under influence have also increased, the paper said. A roadside survey carried out in Scotland in 2007 showed that out of 537 drivers tested, 15 percent aged 17-39 admitted to having consumed cannabis within 12 hours of driving.

All motor vehicle collisions involved in the study took place on a public road and involved one or more moving vehicles such as cars, vans, sport utility vehicles, trucks, buses, and motorcycles. Results were taken through blood samples or direct self-report.

Results showed that if cannabis is consumed before driving a motor vehicle, the risk of collision is nearly doubled. Previous results have also found that there is a substantially higher chance of collision if the driver is aged 35 or younger.

The authors concluded that the consumption of cannabis impairs motor tasks important to safe driving, increasing the chance of collisions, and that future reviews should assess less severe collisions from a general driving population.

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