Research Says Cannabis Affects Driving Long After Its Effects Wear Off


Even though both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in most states and use has become more mainstream, it is still not legal to drive after smoking pot. However, people don’t care much about how cannabis use impairs their driving. One study by Gallup found that 70% of folks didn’t mind driving after taking cannabis.

You should be aware though that pot messes up with your balance, motor, and coordination skills. It also contains THC, which is psychotropic and hence, has an intoxicating effect. Depending on how you take cannabis, and which strain you go for, you’ll be unable to drive immediately or within a few hours. The time it takes for effects to wear off varies from one person to another.

While previously research has shown that cannabis has short term effects on your driving, a new study says that it can affect your driving skills in the long run as well. As per this study, people who start their use of marijuana before the age of 16 are more likely to experience driving-related problems later in life. As someone who has been exposed to cannabis at a younger age, you are more likely to miss red lights and stop signals. The odds of hitting pedestrians are also higher.

Diving Into The Research Work

The Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal published this research work.  For the purpose of this study the team hired 45 participants. Of these, 28 were heavy cannabis users who used cannabis almost daily. Researchers tested their driving skills after conducting urine tests and giving questionnaires to them following 12 hours of cannabis abstinence.

Researchers noted that despite 12 hours of abstinence, those cannabis users who had been exposed to the substance earlier in their life performed way worse on the driving test. This was in comparison to those that did not use cannabis and nonusers. Therefore, the study found that starting the use of cannabis before the age of 16 worsened driving.

An author of the study said, “What we’re seeing are small but significant differences in performance where the early-onset users are showing an increased risk of having collisions, missing stop signs, missing stops at red lights, and spending more time over the speed limit.

What Does This Mean

The study showed that early exposure to cannabis can make driving under influence worse. This means that there is a need to better regulate the herb. Other research works already show that use of cannabis by adolescents can be harmful for their cognition. This study contributes to the evidence.

However, this study doesn’t mean that early-onset cannabis users drive in such a manner that they shouldn’t get on the road. It only explored the differences in the driving of those who started using cannabis earlier and those who stated use later as well as nonusers.

In brief, the study gave two solid takeaways. Firstly, it said that you shouldn’t drive after smoking pot when under the substance’s influence. Secondly, it presented more evidence that early cannabis exposure can impair cognition.


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