Study: Marijuana Has Little Effect On Driving
Report Shows Drivers Become Easily Distracted
POSTED: Monday, June 7, 2010
UPDATED: 1:07 pm EDT June 7, 2010
HARTFORD, Conn. -- A study from researchers based at Hartford Hospital
reveals that marijuana has little effect on the group's simulated
driving skills, but did find drivers were more easily distracted under
Researchers from Hartford Hospital and the University of Iowa Carver
College of Medicine assessed the simulated driving performance of 85
subjects in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial.
Volunteers responded to various simulated events, which were associated
with automobile crash risk. Those risks included a driver who was
entering an intersection illegally, deciding to stop or go through a
changing traffic light, responding to a presence of emergency vehicles,
avoiding a collision with a dog who entered into traffic and maintaining
safe driving during an in-the-car distraction.
"It does not in any way say that it is safe to drive under the influence
of any drug," said investigator Beth Anderson, PhD. "It merely shows us,
we need to study this further. We need to know what marijuana does to
the brain. We need to understand the ramifications. To create public
policy and to keep people safe, you need to know what's really happening
in the brain. You need to know the science behind it. You have to have
The marijuana used in the study was provided by the National Institute
of Drug Abuse and the University of Mississippi, the only legal source
of cannabis in the United States.
"The results do not imply that it is safe to drive under the influence
of marijuana, especially because we know people aren't just smoking
marijuana," said Anderson. "They do it while drinking. They do this when
others are in the car, listening to music, talking on cell phones or
texting. These behaviors distract drivers and are even more dangerous
when someone has been using marijuana."