Your driving is more likely to be impaired if you smoke up—even if you don’t drive stoned. Also, if you began smoking marijuana before the age of 16, the earlier you started the more impaired your driving is liable to be. That’s the upshot of a study by McClean Hospital researchers.
Key findings from the study:
- McLean researchers found that recreational marijuana use affects driving ability even when users are not high.
- The study, performed via driving simulation, found that heavy, chronic, recreational use of marijuana was linked to poorer driving performance in non-intoxicated drivers compared to the healthy, non-using control participants.
- Marijuana users drove at higher speeds, drove through more red lights, and had more accidents than non-users.
- Earlier onset of marijuana use (regular use before age 16) was linked to poorer driving performance.
- The findings may result from the increased impulsivity of those who start smoking pot at a younger age. More research is indicated to see if this theory can be proven.
More states are legalizing marijuana as experts continue to explore the health benefits of the drug. This study therefore has important implications for us and our children. As much as marijuana helps people to manage pain and illness, there’s also a downside to using cannabis. And it behooves us to take a look to see what that downside might be.