Marijuana and Driving

The passage of statewide laws legalizing the adult use of cannabis is not associated with either changes in attitudes or behaviors specific to driving under the influence, according to data published in the journal BMC Research Notes.

A team of researchers affiliated with The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio assessed attitudes regarding marijuana and driving in a nationally representative sample of 55,000 subjects.

They determined that incidences of drugged driving behavior did not become more prevalent post-legalization. Rather, “marijuana users in states that legalized RM [recreational marijuana] self-reported driving after marijuana use less than their counterparts (who resided in states where adult-use cannabis remained illegal). They were also less likely to find such behavior [driving after ingesting cannabis] acceptable.”

Authors concluded, “[W]e found no predominant pattern suggesting that behaviors and attitudes were more tolerant in states with liberal marijuana policies.”

Commenting on the study, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These findings ought to be reassuring to those who feared that legalization might inadvertently be associated with relaxed attitudes toward driving under the influence. These conclusions show that this has not been the case and that majorities of the public continue to perceive drugged driving as unacceptable, regardless of marijuana’s status under state law.”

Full text of the study, “Demographic and policy-based differences in behaviors and attitudes toward driving after marijuana use: An analysis of the 2013-2017 Safety Culture Index,” appears in BMC Research Notes. Additional information regarding marijuana use and traffic safety is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance.”