Smoking Marijuana on Driving Accidents: Federal Study Proves there is No Correlation

We are taught to believe for the longest time that being high is a lot worse than being drunk. But a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Research Division conducted a test that completely sets smoking marijuana apart from any type of driving risk.

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The Research

In a span of 20 months, a team of researchers set out on a project called Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. Its main agenda is to interview about 9000 random motorists and examine the cause and effects of sobriety on their driving. The results of the study did prove something, but it wasn’t about drug influence but alcohol intoxication instead that is causing a majority of recorded roadside accidents. Furthermore, no connection was established about poor driving and smoking marijuana prior to the trip.

A recommendation for another study with a more controlled setting has been given in order to solve the small loophole on the said project. The team wasn’t able to consider the geography of the subject, so it was impossible to tell whether they resided in a state with legal doctrine. But as far as the study goes, the tallies were carefully recorded so there should be no inaccuracies on the probability and statistics.

The Scientific Explanation

Although the team has not released any formal explanation as to why the results were as stated, an idea can be taken from the scientific description of how smoking weed affects the brain. It is a known fact that THC is a component in weed and that it is responsible for the feeling of being high. In addition to this, all medical effects associated with medical marijuana is also because of THC.

Note that the effect of smoking marijuana depends on which receptor the THC reacts with. There are two specific ones: CB1 and CB2. The CB1 is found in the brain which is why you get high when you smoke. The CB2, on the other hand, is found in the immune system, giving the relaxing and numbing effect. If there is a reaction that can affect a person’s ability to drive properly, it would be the THC and CB1 pair.

The feeling of being high is usually because THC reacts to the CB1 in the brain’s hippocampus, the area that deals with short-term memory and spatial navigation. Aside from causing temporary memory loss, it also affects your ability to locate nearby objects in an area and recognize your surroundings. This is what can possibly affect a person’s driving ability. However, there is no definitive proof or in-depth study on the matter yet.

The conclusion of the study has placed a great demand over possible changes to the legal framework in all states that apply to drive while intoxicated cases. If further studies show similar results, there might be a large societal impact on the use of marijuana. This is most true for states that have legalized smoking weed for medical and recreational purposes. At the moment, it is safe to say that marijuana remains a harmless component to driving.