Study: Risks Of Driving Stoned Exaggerated

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Study: Risks Of Driving Stoned Exaggerated

The media have you believing stoners are a serious danger to the roads? Guess again, as new research finds that all previous claims of danger have been a massive exaggeration.

Let’s get one thing out of the way; it is never a good idea to drive a car unless sober. The thing is, though, some people do drive while under the influence of cannabis, and it has acted as ammunition for cannabis prohibitionists claiming legal weed causes a surge in traffic accidents. Yet, if you look at places like Colorado and Washington, where cannabis is legal, the surge is still yet to happen. So why is this? Why are we not seeing a plague of stoners endangering the streets? Well, according to recently published research, the dangers of driving stoned have been greatly exaggerated.

If the media are to be believed, driving while under the influence of cannabis doubles the risk of causing an accident. If true, it is of considerable concern. However, even double the risk of causing a crash is nothing compared to alcohol, with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10% increasing the risk of an ancient by up to 5 times (500%). It is worth noting, the legal drink driving limit in often very close to this; for example, it is 0.08% in the UK.


New research casts doubt on whether this claim of doubled risk from cannabis holds any weight. Research published in the journal Addiction puts the increased chance of a crash when stoned at 20-30%, not the widely claimed 92%. This means driving while stoned is still dangerous, and should not be done, but it is nowhere near as dangerous as thought, and certainly not when compared to alcohol. Once again, scaremongering and hype have prevailed in place of rational thought.

Originally, a meta-analysis was carried out on nine previous studies into the area. This is where the 92% comes from. This new research does the exact same thing, but this time, takes into account confounding variables, such as age and sex. They found:

“Using cannabis and driving under the influence are behaviours that are more common among young adults and males, groups with higher crash risks irrespective of use. Estimated odds ratios typically decline substantially after adjustments for such factors.”

What does this mean? That it is being young and/or male that is associated with higher risk of causing an accident. It just so happens that these are two groups also more likely to use cannabis. It all comes back to a degree of correlation as opposed to causation. Cannabis does increase risk, but nowhere near as much as anti-cannabis campaigners would have you believe.



Written by: Josh
Writer, psychonaut and cannabis aficionado, Josh is Zamnesia’s in-house expert. He spends his days nestled out in the countryside, delving into the hidden depths of all things psychoactive in nature.

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