More Than 40 Percent of People Who Use Alcohol, Cannabis Report Driving Intoxicated, Study Says

marijuana impairment

By Joseph Guzman, The Hill

More than 40 percent of drivers in the U.S. who use both alcohol and marijuana reported driving under the influence of one or both of the substances, according to a new study.

Researchers behind the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine used data from 34,514 drivers aged 16 and up who reported any past-year alcohol and marijuana use and answered questions as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2016 to 2019.

While more than half of respondents with past-year alcohol and cannabis use said they did not get behind the wheel while intoxicated, 42 percent admitted they did.

The research also found drivers who used both substances were nearly three times more likely to drive while under the influence of marijuana and more than 3.5 times as likely to drive under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis.

Both alcohol and marijuana can impair cognitive function and motor coordination, and thus, make it extremely dangerous for someone under the influence to operate a vehicle. Previous research has shown using both substances together can increase the risk of severe or deadly traffic incidents when compared to outcomes related to the use of either substance on their own, according to researchers.

“Alcohol and cannabis are two of the most common substances involved in impaired driving and motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.,” Priscila Dib Gonçalves, author of the study and researcher in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, said in a statement.

“Examining the effect of simultaneous alcohol and cannabis use on self-report driving under the (DUI) of alcohol-only, cannabis-only, and both substances using a nationally representative sample could contribute to better understanding the impact in adolescents and adults,” Gonçalves added.

Fifty-seven percent of the study’s participants were male and 68 percent lived in a state with medical cannabis laws.

Guzman, J. (2022). More than 40 percent of people who use alcohol, cannabis report driving intoxicated, study says. The Hill.


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