A new study should help allay any concerns that New Mexico’s legalization of cannabis use for adults will lead to more driving. The study found that drivers who live in states where cannabis is legal and readily available are less likely to drive high than those in states with laws that prohibit.
Drivers who use less drugs under the law
Regulators and policy makers have expressed concerns about driving under the influence since cannabis legalization was first brought to the table. Understandably, leaders were concerned that increased access to marijuana would give individuals more opportunities to drive under the influence of marijuana. While advocates assured the public that there was no cause for concern, there was little evidence to prove this fact.
But a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports Prepare to change the conversation forever. The study polled 1,249 drivers about their cannabis habits, asking how many times they had driven a car within three hours of smoking cannabis.
According to the findings, more than a third of the participants had driven a vehicle under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days. But states where cannabis has been legalized for either recreational or medical use have had lower levels of reported drugged self-driving than states that still ban the drug. The only exception was among frequent cannabis users. In states that use recreational cannabis, frequent users have been found to drive the drug less often, but only in medical cases, frequent users did not show any significant difference in risk compared to those in states where marijuana is illegal.
Similar data from adolescent use
The results are incredible to say the least. But although it may seem counter-intuitive, it is consistent with what has been found regarding cannabis use among teens in states where marijuana is legal.
A research letter 2019 published in the journal Gamma Pediatrics They examined data from state and state youth behavior surveys released between 1993 and 2017. Researchers found that the likelihood of cannabis use in the past 30 days among high school students was lower in states that legalized recreational cannabis use. The study found an eight percent reduction in the likelihood of teens trying cannabis for the first time and a nine percent reduction in the chance of developing a cannabis use disorder.
The relationship between legalization and reduced teenage use found further support in a September 2021 research letter published in JAMA network is open. This survey extended the previous review into 2019 and included more states where cannabis has been legalized. According to the authors, adoption of the legalization of cannabis use for adults did not show any significant association with current teenage marijuana use or frequent teenage marijuana use.
How does that happen?
The reason behind these strange connections is not at all clear. It may be that the increased public interest in cannabis policies during legalization campaigns before any laws are enacted can help educate citizens about the dangers of driving while under the influence. It’s a real puzzle!