As marijuana becomes increasingly legal for medicinal or recreational purposes, scientists are taking a harder look at its possible harmful effects, including its role in fatal vehicle crashes - the April 20 marijuana holiday, otherwise referred to "4/20", is one time and day of note - as well as whether it is linked to a possible spike in mental health issues.
Be aware that each April 20, thousands of Americans celebrate marijuana on a popular counterculture holiday known as "4/20", and public celebrations feature synchronized mass consumption of cannabis at 4:20 p.m.
Cannabis users should wait at least four hours before getting behind the wheel, Dr. Brubacher has recommended, in order to counteract the way the drug distracts people, slows reaction times, causes weaving and makes it harder to maintain a constant speed.
With recreational marijuana use now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, and medical use legal in dozens more, the once underground, counterculture 4/20 gatherings in the US have become more mainstream in recent years; 4/20 is a counterculture code word for smoking cannabis.
The 25-year time span studied coincides with shortly after the first publication of 4/20 as a cannabis culture holiday in High Times magazine, in 1991.
The experts compared the ratio of drivers involved in deadly crashes on April 20 after 4:20 p.m. with the number of people involved in fatal traffic accidents during the same time intervals on control days seven days earlier and seven days later. "My main piece of advice is, 'Don't drive high, '" Staples said.
A total of 1,369 drivers were involved in fatal crashes after 4:20 p.m. on April 20 during the more than 2 decades evaluated, compared with 2,453 drivers involved in fatal crashes on the 2 control days combined, which corresponded to 7.1 and 6.4 drivers in fatal crashes per hour, respectively.
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Mr Staples called the 12% increase "highly significant", noting that drivers under the age of 21 had an increased crash risk of 38%.
The impact of marijuana's psychoactive effects on drivers is of particular concern given that six USA states now permit marijuana to be sold for recreational use to customers at least 21 years old.
The examination discovered three states where crash chance expanded the most on 4/20 - Georgia, New York and Texas. It's not known how common it is for people to drive after smoking pot, but one study of USA college freshmen at two large public universities found that 44 percent of marijuana users said they drove soon after using marijuana within the last month. Or have a designated driver. "4/20 event organizers [need to offer] safer transportation as part of the festival plan in order to help attendees to get home alive".
"The simplest explanation is that some drivers are impaired by cannabis use, and these drivers are contributing to fatal crashes", Dr. Staples said. "Thoughtful policies can eliminate drugged driving and keep our roads safe", he said. And while some states have established 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood as the standard for driving under the influence, "new research shows that even substantially impaired marijuana users would not be caught under this standard if they consumed pot in edible form".
Whitehill agreed that the study highlights numerous questions that remain to be answered about marijuana and driving.
Marijuana is legal for medical use in most USA states and in Canada. "We have to recognize them and deal with them".
What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
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