Millions of Americans are Driving While Under the Influence of Cannabis
National estimated presented by the Centers for Disease Control show that millions of Americans are operating vehicles while under the influence of marijuana. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that in 2018, 12 million American adults admitted to having driven under the influence of marijuana in the 12 months prior to the survey.
These statistics equate to at least 4.7% of Americans driving under the influence of marijuana. In comparison, 8% of drivers said they had driven after having at least one drink at some point in the previous year.
Of those who drove while under the influence of marijuana, male drivers were more likely to do so when compared to female drivers. People who were likely to consume marijuana before driving were those in the 21-25 age group, while the second-highest group was amongst 16-20-year-olds. CDC officials note this as a “special concern,” as it shows that drivers with limited driving experience are participating in mind-altering substances while on the road, potentially putting other drivers and pedestrians at risk,
Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal throughout the country, despite the plant becoming legal in more states. Marijuana can impact a person’s ability to think clearly, including affecting their judgement and reaction time, all important factors while operating a vehicle.
The CDC hopes to establish the strongest test standards to see whether a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. They hope to encourage stronger collaboration with public health institutions and law enforcement to develop more accurate testing methods to help prevent driving under the influence.
Currently, there are no national standards for marijuana-impaired driving like there are for drunk driving. However, with it becoming more common, authorities are scrambling to implement a framework that protects drivers and prevents accidents from occurring.