According to U.S.-Canadian researchers, car crash deaths involving marijuana are increasing in the United States.
“There has been progress in reducing deaths from alcohol-impaired driving, but our study suggests that cannabis involvement might be undercutting these public health efforts,” said the researchers out of the Boston Medical Center, Boston University, and the University of Victoria.
The research, published last week in the American Journal of Public Health, indicates that people who died in motor vehicle collisions (MVC) involving cannabis had 50 per cent greater odds of also having alcohol in their system.
The investigators came to their findings after exploring 19 years of data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which covers fatal crashes on public roads from 2000 to 2018.
“Trends in fatalities involving alcohol have remained stable,” the study authors write.
The research found that the percentage of fatalities involving cannabis increased from nine per cent in 2000 to 21.5 per cent in 2018, while those involving cannabis and alcohol jumped from 4.8 per cent in 2000 to 10.3 per cent in 2018, the findings indicate.
“These results suggest that as (U.S.) states have loosened cannabis policies, cannabis and alcohol have increasingly been used together when driving,” notes a statement from the Boston Medical Center. An additional concern is what appears to be little attention being paid to “the connection between alcohol and cannabis use,” the statement reports.
“There has been progress in reducing deaths from alcohol-impaired driving, but our study suggests that cannabis involvement might be undercutting these public health efforts,” argues senior author Dr. Timothy Naimi, an adjunct professor at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and director of the Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research in Victoria.
“These results also show that cannabis-involved car crashes are more likely to involve the deaths of passengers as well as individuals younger than 35 compared to crash deaths not involving cannabis,” they added.