Cannabis and Driving

A report done by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Cannabis Use and Driving, shows that young drivers are more likely to drive after using cannabis than to drive after drinking. The report is part of a series of publications that reviews the effects of cannabis use on a variety of aspects affecting human functioning and development. This report highlights evidence that driving after cannabis use now rivals or exceeds rates of drinking and driving among youth.

Results from a Canadian Addictions Survey found that around 20 per cent of drivers aged 16 to 18 reported driving after cannabis use. This evidence reflects similar findings in student surveys in both Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. In Ontario, 19.3 per cent of students in Grades 10 to 12 admitted driving after using cannabis; in the Atlantic provinces, 15.1 per cent of senior students admitted to having done so.

Similar research in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine on the prevalence of cannabis use among 15-year-olds in Canada, suggested that 30 per cent of boys and 28 per cent of girls smoked the drug in 2006.

Many young people may not know or understand the dangers associated with driving after using cannabis. It has been shown to impair a wide variety of cognitive and motor skills critical to safe driving — e.g., reaction time, divided attention, and responsiveness to surroundings. Awareness and educational programs are needed to inform both the general population and targeted audiences, such as youth, about the harms associated with driving after using cannabis and/or other drugs.

Canadians should be aware of new legislation in Canada that gives police the ability to demand that drivers suspected of using cannabis (or other drugs) submit to tests to determine presence of drugs and provide a sample of blood, urine or oral fluid to test for the presence of drugs.

Source: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse