When it comes to driving while under the influence of cannabis, states that have legalized the substance are seeing less of the potentially dangerous driving behavior than states that continue criminalization, according to a new study.
The analysis of self-reported driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) found that people are less likely to drive within three hours of consuming marijuana in states that have legalized for medical or recreational use compared to non-legal states.
Researchers with the nonprofit RTI International said that while there does appear to be an exception with respect to medical cannabis patients who report frequent use—whose behavior did not differ significantly from frequent users living in states without legal marijuana—the broader takeaway is that prohibition states are generally more likely to have impaired drivers on the roads.
“The risk of self-reported DUIC was lower in recreational and medical cannabis states compared to states without legal cannabis,” the study authors wrote. “Current cannabis users in recreational and medical only cannabis states were significantly less likely to report driving within three hours of getting high in the past 30 days, compared to current users living in states without legal cannabis.”
The difference may be the result of public education efforts in legal states that specifically deter driving while high.
The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, concludes that intoxicated cannabis prevention efforts are “most needed in states without legalized cannabis.”