With Pot Rules Relaxed, More U.S. Teens Driving While High
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2021 Jan 14
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Almost half of teenagers who regularly use pot admit they've gotten behind the wheel while stoned, a new study in JAMA Network Open reveals.
Overall, twice as many teens report driving under the influence of marijuana than admit to drinking and driving, according to results drawn from a federal survey on youth risk behaviors.
Nearly 13% of teen drivers said they'd operated a vehicle while stoned within the past month, compared with 5% who said they drove drunk, the study says.
"Marijuana can impair cognitive abilities that are critical for safe driving," said lead researcher Dr. Motao Zhu, professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University College of Public Health. "This is a serious issue that requires our attention."
The wave of marijuana legalization that has swept the United States has likely contributed to the problem by making pot easier than ever to obtain, Zhu said.
"Definitely, there's more availability of marijuana from legal channels," Zhu said. "Maybe teens feel marijuana isn't as harmful as they thought in the past."
For the study, Zhu and his team analyzed responses from more than 6,800 students 14 or older who participated in the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. It's a nationwide survey conducted regularly by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 1 in 8 teen drivers who are casual pot users said they'd driven under the influence of marijuana in the past month, Zhu said.
Among teens who regularly use marijuana, nearly 49% said they had driven while stoned, the survey showed.