A new study from Ohio State University College of Public Health was recently published by JAMA Network Open, which shows that almost half of teenagers who use cannabis regularly have admitted to driving while under the influence of cannabis.
According to the study, the number of teenagers who consume cannabis and drive is higher than data reflecting teenagers who admit to drinking alcohol and driving. Within the confines of this study, 13 percent of teen drivers said that they operated a vehicle while consuming, or having consumed, cannabis, whereas only five percent said that they have driven drunk or under the influence of alcohol. At the time, the survey notes that these surveyed individuals admitted to consumption habits having occurred within the past month of when they were asked.
“Marijuana can impair cognitive abilities that are critical for safe driving,” says Dr. Motao Zhu, a professor at Ohio State University College of Public Health and lead researcher on the study. “This is a serious issue that requires our attention. Definitely, there’s more availability of marijuana from legal channels. Maybe teens feel marijuana isn’t as harmful as they thought in the past.”
Answers were surveyed from more than 6,800 students, all above age 14 or above, who were initially surveyed in 2017 as well. That original study, entitled the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, was conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results of that three-year-old study revealed that one in eight teenaged drivers who use cannabis claim they drive under the influence of cannabis. Almost 49 percent said they had driven while under the influence of cannabis at some point.
“It used to be there was a greater prevalence of young men using marijuana and driving, and now we’re seeing that there’s no statistical difference,” says Helen Witty, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (also known as MADD). “It used to be a greater difference between the two genders.”