Pot causes fewer accidents than alcohol
A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concludes that people who smoke marijuana and drive are less likely to crash compared to people who drink and drive. Furthermore, once adjusting for age, race, gender and alcohol use, people who tested positively for marijuana while behind the wheel were no more likely to crash than people who did not drive with any drugs or alcohol in their system.
Statistically speaking, the study found no major difference in the risk of a crash from a wide variety of drugs, including painkillers, stimulants and antidepressants compared to not using drugs. However, once alcohol is involved with driving, the risk for a crash increases by close to seven times.
This study further shows that THC—the main active ingredient in marijuana—does not affect the body the same way that blood alcohol concentration does. However, the NHTSA states this study does not properly show how different drug concentration levels can change a person’s specific degree of driver impairment. For instance, THC can have a greater effect on one person compared to another. The study notes that, unlike alcohol, marijuana and other psychoactive drugs are chemically complex molecules. The absorption and action of these molecules within the body are harder to predict.
While some states are beginning to pass “marijuana-impaired driving” laws, it’s still unclear what the illegal measured blood threshold level should be for drivers using marijuana.