HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Americans Ignore Marijuana-Impaired
Pubdate: Thu, 19 Apr 2018
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2018 Sun-Sentinel Company
Website: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/159
Author: Robert Gordon

DOOBIE-OUS CHOICE: AMERICANS IGNORE MARIJUANA-IMPAIRED DRIVING RISK

Marijuana beer is the latest trend in South Florida's brewing
industry, but the cannabis terpenes oil used in the brews needs to be
tested and approved. Breweries in the area are planning to host
420-themed parties.

Marijuana beer is the latest trend in South Florida's brewing
industry, but the cannabis terpenes oil used in the brews needs to be
tested and approved. Breweries in the area are planning to host
420-themed parties.

Glorifying marijuana use is now a staple across pop culture, music and
Hollywood, where getting high is celebrated with nary a mention of the
public safety risks involved. But if you smoke, vape, or enjoy edibles
and get behind the wheel of a car while impaired, not only are you
breaking the law, you are putting your life and the lives of others on
the road in great danger.

Drivers should be especially cautious this Friday, April 20 --
otherwise known as National Weed Day. Alarmingly, a new Property
Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) survey found that more
than two thirds of Americans (68 percent) did not think there was any
increased driving risk on National Weed Day.

But new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that
traffic fatalities were 12 percent more likely on 4/20 after 4:20 p.m.
(the time the smoking celebration traditionally begins) than on the
same day one week before or one week after. And no matter what time of
the year, marijuana users are 25 percent more likely to be involved in
a crash than drivers with no evidence of pot use.

Friday is April 20, or 4/20. That's the numerical code for marijuana's
high holiday.

Friday is April 20, or 4/20. That's the numerical code for marijuana's
high holiday. (Eric Risberg / AP)

Marijuana use is most prevalent among young adults aged 18-25 with
more than 11 million in the age bracket using the drug in 2015. Yet,
despite the rapidly growing drug use by teens and young adults, many
parents are not taking the dangers seriously. PCI's survey found more
than 50 percent of parents with teenagers at home said they have not
spoken to their children about the dangers of driving high in the days
leading up to April 20.

But according to JAMA's study, fatal crashes on National Weed Day are
38 percent more likely for drivers under 21 years old -- almost the
same risk as the spike in car crash deaths on Super Bowl Sunday, which
is traditionally a day of increased alcohol intake.

It is clear that far too many Americans fail to truly understand just
how dangerous driving high can be, despite evidence of an increase in
cannabis-related driving accidents and fatalities in states that have
liberalized marijuana laws. Research shows that marijuana use impairs
psychomotor skills, leads to slower reaction times and lane tracking
difficulties.

States and federal agencies are still developing standards to
determine what level of marijuana consumption is unsafe and how long
people need to wait after consuming marijuana before it is safe to
resume driving. PCI's survey found that 20 percent of Americans say
they have driven a car under the influence of marijuana, with 81
percent of those who have driven under the influence of marijuana
admitting they drove either immediately or within two hours of using
the drug.

That is a recipe for disaster and underscores the need for states
liberalizing their marijuana laws to start with appropriate education,
safety, and enforcement standards before rolling the dice on our roadways.

What's needed now is a sustained public awareness campaign that better
educates the public about the dangers of driving high, while states
and federal agencies continue to invest in, and research, the most
effective ways to test for drugged driving as is done with roadside
alcohol tests. Police officers need to be equipped with the tools and
training to successfully test, identify, and enforce against drugged
driving impairment.

And it doesn't matter what you see in the movies, marijuana use can be
deadly if you choose to get behind the wheel of a car.

Don't be a statistic and be especially careful on the roads this
Friday.

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Robert Gordon is the senior vice president, policy development and
research for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
Prior to joining PCI in August 2008, Gordon was the parliamentarian,
senior counsel and ethics compliance officer for the Committee on
Financial Services in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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