Research suggests waiting five hours to drive after marijuana consumption

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Consuming marijuana can impair judgment similarly to alcohol

As states have rolled out legislation to allow individuals to consume marijuana legally, there have always been certain restrictions put in place. No consuming close to schools or public parks or in established no-smoking areas are commonly seen in marijuana bills. Additionally, all of the states have determined that consuming and driving don’t mix, including marijuana as a product that could result in a driver being charged with driving under the influence. A recent study backs up that position and says that drivers should wait five hours before getting behind the wheel.

McGill University released a report yesterday based on research that shows young drivers are more likely to get into a vehicle crash if they have consumed within the past five years before getting behind the wheel. The researchers tested drivers from 18 to 24 years of age – 24 males and 21 females – using a driving simulator. The participants were given 100 milligrams of dried cannabis, containing the average amount of THC found in cannabis, through a vaporizer. As long as there were no distractions, the subjects did fine. However, as soon as a busy intersection or other distraction was added to the simulator, their performance quickly degraded.

The study’s co-author, Dr. Tatiana Ogourtsova, explained, “When we added distractions and tasks required more attention and more focus and cognitive skills like divided attention … response time was much greater. We call them complex tasks, but they are things one has to do in everyday driving, which involves a lot of divided attention…I think the five hours maybe came as a surprise. We thought maybe the effects would not be as strong. But they were very significant.”

There will be some who disagree with this position, just like there are those who say they are fine to drive after consuming alcohol. However, there has to be an established baseline to enact any laws and scientific studies are generally the most accepted form of measurement to create the limits. And those limits are in place to not only save the driver’s life, but the lives of innocent individuals who might just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.