Many marijuana users know that they shouldn’t drive a vehicle while under the effects of the drug, but surprisingly a report has found that even when sober, some marijuana users can be dangerous on the road.
A study by researchers from McLean Hospital in Boston, that was reported this week in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that users who started using marijuana before age 16, are bad drivers even when sober.
The researchers theorize that early marijuana use changes the brain, leaving people more impulsive and more apt to make rash decisions. Users who began the drug in their teens have more accidents, cruise through more ed lights and drove at higher speeds compared to those who never used the drug.
Participants in the study were tested in a driving simulator. Researchers recruited 28 regular, heavy cannabis users; 23 males and five females, as well as 17 non-users; six males and 10 females. whose driving abilities would be tested in a simulator. The participants’ average age was 23.
“This research suggests that early exposure to cannabis may result in difficulties performing complex cognitive tasks,” commented co-author Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital.
Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor in the behavioral pharmacology research unit at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine remarked, “We don’t fully understand the health impacts of heavy frequent cannabis use.”