Ahead of increased sales of cannabis expected on 420, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched an ad campaign designed to discourage cannabis consumers from driving. On April 18, MADD will team up with law enforcement to help spread the word about dangerous driving practices and how it relates to cannabis.
MADD National President Helen Witty was personally affected by an impaired driver, which propelled her to serve under her current position. “Driving under the influence of any drug, including cannabis and alcohol, all too often has tragic consequences. Combining both cannabis and alcohol is even more dangerous than using either substance alone, leading to greater impairment and a greater risk of getting into a crash,” Witty stated in a press release. “My 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was rollerblading on a bike path near our home when a marijuana- and alcohol-impaired teen driver ran off the road and struck her. Helen Marie died an instant, violent death, and my life changed forever.”
The data in cannabis impairment studies is mixed—positive and negative—and studies vary in their results. According to a Canadian study on U.S. traffic data, and highlighted by MADD, the probability that people get into accidents increases 12 percent on April 20, and for younger adults, the risk increased by 38 percent.
The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) stated that while cannabis does impair driving ability, the impairment isn’t as pronounced as with alcohol. “Although cannabis intoxication has been shown to mildly impair psychomotor skills, this impairment does not appear to be severe or long lasting,” NORML stated.
Despite the disagreements about the level of motor skill impairment that cannabis causes, there’s no justification for driving under the effects of cannabis, when it is easy to avoid driving with services like Uber and Lyft. MADD has been around since 1980 and was established by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The organization has two hotlines, 1-877-MADD-HELP for 24-hour victim assistance, and 1-877-ASK-MADD for general information.