The second most likely group to smoke and get behind wheel was 16- to 20-year-olds.
A new study has revealed that 4.7 percent of polled Americans — or around 12 million people — have driven under the influence of cannabis and researchers are calling on health officials to do something about it.
The report, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that 12 million American adults admitted to driving a car under the influence of marijuana at some point in the 12 months preceding the survey, according to KTLA5. Another 2.3 million or so, or 0.9 percent, admitted to driving after using other illegal drugs, such as meth or cocaine. Eight percent of those surveyed said they have driven after drinking alcohol.
Males were more likely than females to report driving after drug use and the group most likely to get behind the wheel after smoking weed was respondents between the ages of 21 and 25. The second most likely group — which researchers found especially alarming — was new drivers between the ages of 16 and 20.
The report’s authors called on health officials to step up efforts to develop accurate methods of testing for THC in a driver’s system, similar to the breathalyzers employed for suspected alcohol use.
Cannabis has presented unique challenges to police departments across the country because the methods of ingesting the drug have not proven easily detectable by measuring devices. Marijuana-infused edibles can take hours for the body to fully absorb and to have impairing effects, and vaped or smoked THC can be traceable for days after it’s consumed, according to Global News. A blood test can’t detect if a person is impaired — only if he or she has recently consumed cannabis.
There have also been constitutional challenges to police forces across Canada who measure cannabis impairment. In Nova Scotia, a medical cannabis consumer who has multiple sclerosis lost her licence temporarily after the RCMP found trace amounts of THC in her system, seven hours after she says she consumed the drug.
Ontario police noted they will be operating mobile RIDE units throughout December to prevent word from spreading on the location of the safety checks. “We know with social media word gets out quickly,” said Belleville Chief of Police Ron Gignac. “We’re going to be doing spot rides. We might set for up 10 minutes in one area, five minutes in the next, 15 minutes in the next area,” Gignac said.
“Cannabis increases your chance of being in a crash,” said Const. Derrick Osmond of the Quinte West OPP. “Cannabis affects your attention, reaction time, motor coordination and depth perception, all of which affect you while driving.”
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Written by David Yasvinski