Now that several states are allowing marijuana for medicinal use, as well as a few that are lessening the restrictions on the drug, it is important to understand how this effects the fatality rate among young adults. In the past, people who smoked pot tended to stay at home, for fear that they may caught under the influence or in possession of marijuana. Now that it is becoming acceptable to possess marijuana in a few states, these people are venturing away from their homes and getting behind the wheel.
A recent study that was conducted by Dr. Katherine Keyes along with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows that many young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 who passed away from a motor vehicle accident had marijuana and/or alcohol in their systems. The findings were published in Injury Epidemiology.
Researchers looked at 7,191 accidents that resulted in a fatality among people aged 16 to 25. The information was collected from California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey Rhode Island, Washington State and West Virginia. After reviewing all the information, it was discovered that the fatalities that occurred within these nine states had 50.3% of the drivers testing positive for marijuana, alcohol or both. Researchers feel that it is important to understand how the changes regarding legalizing marijuana affect other drivers on the road.
“Given the rapid changes currently underway in marijuana availability and permissibility in the U.S., understanding the effects of drug control policies on substance use behavior and adverse health outcomes, such as fatal motor vehicle crashes, has never been more important,” explained Dr. Keyes, lead researcher on the study.
Now that more states are considering to allow marijuana as a legal substance, young adults need to be made more aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of the drug, especially when combining it with alcohol. While the dangers of drunk driving are often discussed and brought up in many different settings, driving under the influence of marijuana, or of alcohol and marijuana, is not as openly talked about. This information helps to dispel the notion that marijuana isn’t as harmful as alcohol. People under the influence of either, let alone both, should not be driving.