Evidence suggests that driving high may be less dangerous than driving drunk, but driving stoned is still driving impaired — and assuming otherwise could get you killed.
A new paper, published in this week's British Medical Journal, revealed that smoking pot within few hours of driving was associated with a nearly two-fold risk of being involved in a serious car crash, an association they say was especially strong for fatal collisions.
As you might expect, the study found that people involved in fatal crashes tended to have higher quantities of THC in their systems than those who survived. That said, there was not enough data to paint a clear picture linking the amount of pot in a person's system to the risk and severity of collision, so no threshold of thc-intoxication (analogous to a blood alcohol limit of .08%) could be established.
According to Mark Asbridge, who led the study, their findings could go a long way in raising awareness about the dangers of driving while stoned — a cause which has gone largely unnoticed, despite the fact that stoned driving could be a growing risk.
"[Here in North America] we have Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and they devote a great deal of time to public awareness," explained Asbridge in a BMJ podcast, which you can listen to here. "And we simply haven't seen that for drug-use." He continues:
If you look at the rates of driving under the influence of cannabis — and, in particular, among young people — you see that rates of cannabis and driving actually surpass those of drinking and driving, particularly amongst those under the age of 25. We have reported rates [in Canada] between 15 and 20 percent for cannabis, in comparison to drinking and driving, which is usually around 10—15%, so clearly this is an issue on the rise, particularly among young people.