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Why Do Legal Cannabis States See Less DUIs?

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This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.

Throughout the prevalence of prohibition, we’ve been sold on the idea that if we were to legalize cannabis, everybody would just start smoking like junkies on the hunt for their latest fix. When cannabis was legalized, that didn’t happen.

They told us that if we were to legalize cannabis, kids would suddenly think that it’s okay to smoke weed and we’d have a bunch of red-eyed youths running around being all “delinquent” and stuff. When we legalized, it seemed that there was no change in youth consumption rates, and in some cases, fewer youths engaged in the activity.

marijuana joint
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Now it seems that another myth that was often perpetuated by the prohibition has surfaced agin, the myth that if we were to legalize, we would have “stoned drivers” crashing all over the place. Unfortunately with most prohibition myths, once a legal market steps in to prove or disprove the point, the facts usually side with cannabis.

A recent Marijuana Moment article pointed out a study that found legal marijuana states have less impaired driving than prohibition states.

“The risk of self-reported DUIC was significantly lower in recreational and medical states than in neither states,” 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.”

“One potential explanation for lower prevalence of DUIC in legal states is perceived safety of cannabis use, which is associated with DUIC and varies by legalization,” the study continues. “In legal states, cannabis users may receive more information about the risks of cannabis use from sources like physicians who issue medical cannabis cards or dispensary staff than users living in neither states.”  

In other words, the researchers believe that due to the fact that cannabis is legal, odds are that consumer education plays a vital role in reducing DUIC. People who live in legal states typically become more “aware” of the side effects of cannabis and begin to view cannabis consumption in the same light as driving under the influence of alcohol, which people tend to avoid.

RELATED: Drivers Less Likely To Get Behind The Wheel Stoned In States With Legal Weed

Conversely, since there are no public education about cannabis and driving in states that prohibit the plant, they are less likely to engage with other people who would openly frown about the idea of driving. The culture is already “illicit” meaning that doing other illicit things such as driving high might be less of a gap than if what you are doing is legal.  Police are in the process of developing new protocols for testing cannabis-infused drivers.

In other words, in a prohibition state, the mere act of smoking marijuana would mean that you are breaking the law. But in a legal state, only driving under the influence would warrant an illegal action. When you’re already doing something illegal, doing other things that are illegal costs less than if you are not breaking the law.

However, the authors also believe that there could be another reason.

“States that have not legalized cannabis cannot regulate the labeling of cannabis products, while many recreational and medical states require warning labels and instructions on products,” the researchers wrote. “Some edible cannabis products contain warnings about driving within a few hours of consumption.”

driving while high
Photo by Cappi Thompson/Getty Images

This is part of the consumer education benefit of legalization. You can actually put warnings on the consumer products compared to the illicit market that has no regulations. This means that by the simple act of consuming a legal product in a cannabis friendly state, you are being exposed to the ideas of responsible consumption right on the packaging.

RELATED: Driving High On Marijuana Might Not Be As Dangerous As Prescription Drugs

While many people might not read these labels, the unconscious mind picks up on them and slowly over time begins to cement itself within the consumer’s mind. This isn’t possible in prohibition states.

In fact, the authors recognized this in their research:

“Because regulation of cannabis products in non-legal environments is not possible, mass media campaigns may be a good option by providing education about DUIC,” the authors said, concluding that: “Although all states should educate its citizens about the potential dangers of using cannabis and driving, this analysis suggests that states without legal cannabis are particularly in need of DUIC prevention efforts.”

Ironically, it seems that the states that cling onto the myths perpetuated by prohibition are the ones suffering from the consequences these myths suggest would happen if you legalize cannabis. The truth of the matter is that legalization as a policy has worked and while there certainly are areas of improvement, society is experiencing a net benefit from legalization.

Prohibition does nothing to reduce cannabis consumption, and seemingly performs poorer in reducing the potential side effects of mass cannabis consumption – reducing DUIC, youth consumption, etc.

What would happen if we do this with all drugs?

Cannabis should never have been made illegal in the first place. However, the same could be said for every other drug. While it’s true that meth doesn’t have the same “social value” as cannabis, consuming it should never be illegal.

In fact, if there is anything we can learn from prohibition it’s that by utilizing the “law enforcement approach” only makes the act of consuming drugs more dangerous. We have seen what can happen when we slowly educate people on the proper way of handling drugs.

We realize that when we treat people like adults and give them the freedom of choice, they typically tend to find some equilibrium and practice safe consumption habits.

Driving With Kids In Your Car Can Lead To Felony Charges If You Have THC In Your System
Photo by Darwin Vegher via Unsplash

In 2022, we need to recognize that the policies dreamed up by corrupt politicians over 50-years ago is the real cancer to society. And if we truly want to make society “safer” from drug consumption, we’ll take it out of the shadows, bring it into the light, and teach people the proper way of getting high.

It’s time we remove the stigma associated with drug consumption and recognize that we’re all caffeine junkies (for the most part). We’re all consuming a drug in one way or another, and just because some might have effects that make you question your very existence doesn’t mean that they should be illegal.

I’m sure, if we embrace drug use in a responsible manner and create the space for adults to experiment with their own consciousness,  the world would not end, drug addiction rates would drop, crime would drop, and we would be entering into a new cultural revolution within 10 years after legalization.

Of course, this last part is just personal conjecture, but one thing is certain: prohibition even fails at what prohibition aims to stop, it’s time for something better.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.



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Cannabis

Drivers Less Likely To Get Behind The Wheel Stoned In States With Legal Weed

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A new study has concluded that self-reported driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) in states that have legalized recreational marijuana was lower than states where weed was illegal.

The study, published in the journal of Preventative Medicine Reports, also found that those who are frequent cannabis users in recreational legal states showed a significantly lower risk of self-reported DUIC within three hours after use compared to those living in states where cannabis is not legal. 

The main exception came in states where cannabis was legal for medical purposes, where the results found there was little difference between states with medically legal weed versus those where weed is completely illegal. 

driving while high
Photo by JasonDoiy/Getty Images

The study, which surveyed a variety of cannabis users, offered several possible reasons for this trend, including the fact that in states where recreational weed is legal, those who purchase it are likely to receive more information about the risks and responsibilities of cannabis use, while those purchasing it off the street are not.

There is also packaging and labeling to consider. “States that have not legalized cannabis cannot regulate the labeling of cannabis products, while many recreational and medical states require warning labels and instructions on products,” the authors of the study wrote.

These results present a direct contrast to other studies that are often used by those who oppose marijuana legalization, like a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation that found that marijuana presence doubled in fatally injured drivers between 2007 and 2016. 

While numbers do not lie, they can be misleading. With more states legalizing marijuana, there is much broader access to it; millions of people are within their legal rights to consume it. While the National Council of State Legislators quoted the U.S. Department of Transportation’s report, it also stated that “drugs such as marijuana can also stay in the system for weeks, thus appearing in roadside tests while no longer causing impairment.”

Could CBD Cause Impaired Driving?
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RELATED: Study: Consuming CBD-Rich Cannabis Has ‘No Significant Impact’ On Driving

The length in which marijuana stays in your system is one of the biggest hurdles and contentions in these kinds of accusations and criminal charges. As we previously reported, DUID cases involving marijuana get tossed out of court a lot of times in legal states simply because impairment cannot be proven. Still, this does not mean marijuana-induced driving violations do not occur and can not be prosecuted.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, “Thirty-three states have ‘effects-based’ driving under the influence of marijuana laws that criminalize a person for driving while they are truly impaired, which is determined based on all available evidence.” There are 17 states with “per se” or “zero tolerance laws,” where, in order to prove the case, one simply needs to present blood test evidence proving there was a certain level of THC in your system.

RELATED: Driving High On Marijuana Might Not Be As Dangerous As Prescription Drugs

Regardless of whether you live in a state where weed is legal or illegal, driving safely is always important. While some states have adopted strict zero tolerance laws to combat marijuana-impaired driving, this recent study found that education, not stricter laws, is what may be needed.

In its conclusion, the study found that, “Although all states should educate its citizens about the potential dangers of using cannabis and driving, this analysis suggests that states without legal cannabis are particularly in need of DUIC prevention efforts.”



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Would It Be Better If Society Smoked More Weed And Drank Less Booze?

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This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.

How would society be influenced if cannabis was the main legal recreational drug? A recent YouGov Poll revealed that roughly 1 in 4 people in America believes that if people smoked more marijuana than they drank alcohol, it would be generally “better”.

When  presented with the question “Would it be good or bad if the average American drank less alcohol and used more marijuana?,” 27% of respondents replied “good” and 20% replied “bad.” Roughly 38% of the public, however, believed that it would be neither.

cannabis beer
Photo by Sarah Pender/Getty Images

RELATED: Americans Are Choosing Marijuana Over Alcohol

Obviously, the younger the demographic of voters, the more in favor they were of the idea that “more cannabis consumption over alcohol consumption” would be good. But this question brings us to today’s Ganja Theory: Would cannabis have a net benefit if it was the main legal drug of consumption for recreational purposes? In other words, if cannabis was as commonly consumed as alcohol, would society receive a net benefit?

Health-wise, More Weed Would Be Better

When comparing alcohol and cannabis it is obvious that cannabis is the “less harmful” of the two substances. First, unlike alcohol, you cannot induce a lethal overdose with cannabis. The LD-50 of cannabis, when it was tested, is said to be anywhere between 1:20,000 and 1:50,000 which means that you’d have to consume an inhumane amount of cannabis to induce a lethal dose.

The LD-50 rating is a system used to indicate toxicity of a drug in where when administered a dose 50% of the test animals die. When this happens, the LD-50 of a particular drug is established. According to Drug Policy Facts, when it comes to weed:

At present, it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.  

Compared to alcohol which places an LD-50 at about 13 shots where 1 shot = 45ml (40% AVB). In other words, a little over a half a liter of spirits could kill you, or at least theoretically this is where 50% of test subjects would have a lethal dose.

Not to mention, the general toll alcohol has on the body is quite extensive.

Here’s a short list of illnesses that could only come from excessive alcohol consumption:

  • Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism
  • Alcoholic polyneuropathy (disease of the peripheral nerves)
  • Alcoholic myopathy (disease of muscle tissue)
  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy (heart disease)
  • Alcoholic gastritis (stomach inflammation)
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Alcohol-induced pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation)
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (birth defects)

And compare this to cannabis:

  • Cannabis Use Disorder (maybe)
woman lighting a marijuana joint
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

Sure, I could list some other potentials, but none of the other elements on the list of the CDC can be claimed to come from cannabis alone. However, when it comes to the alcohol related illnesses, there is extensive research on the matter. Perhaps, more conditions might arise over time, but for now the list is quite short of verifiable side effects.

Simply put, when comparing the health impact of consuming alcohol versus the health impact of consuming cannabis, there will be a net benefit to society because cannabis is not only less dangerous as a substance, it also has a lower chance of forming addictive behavior.

Driving

While no one is arguing that cannabis and driving don’t mix, the two are different. Those driving stoned out of their mind tend to (on average) drive slower, while drunk drivers tend to speed and drive more recklessly.

RELATED: More Than 40% Of People Admit To Doing This While Using Weed Or Alcohol

Recent studies also showed that while crash rates spiked in some states that legalized cannabis, that only those who combined alcohol and cannabis posed a statistical threat.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

Crash rates spiked with the legalization of recreational marijuana use and retail sales in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and another by the affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) show.

However, the preliminary results of a separate IIHS study of injured drivers who visited emergency rooms in California, Colorado and Oregon showed that drivers who used marijuana alone were no more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers who hadn’t used the drug.  

driving while high
Photo by JasonDoiy/Getty Images

In other words, alcohol is the main driver in traffic fatalities claiming more than 10,000 people each year to alcohol-induced driving.

If cannabis was the predominant drug of choice, this could reduce the yearly traffic fatalities seeing that, “drivers who used marijuana alone were no more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers who hadn’t used the drug.”

More Productive

We’ve been told that stoners are lazy, but recent research tells us a different story. For starters, states that have legalized cannabis see employees take fewer sick days and a recent study saw that students who smoke marijuana were more interested in taking up more challenging tasks than their non-smoking counter parts.

RELATED: Forgo The Wake And Bake — And 4 Other Cannabis Productivity Hacks

This isn’t to say that cannabis will keep you motivated, but it does show you that the old “lazy stoner trope” is outdated. However, being drunk significantly impacts your ability to produce.

A LinkedIn post by Dr. Daniel Amen explains:

In fact, the evidence from our brain imaging studies demonstrates that alcohol is the exact opposite. Even ONE glass of beer or wine per day can be directly toxic to brain function. The SPECT scans of people who drink too much alcohol – more than three drinks a week – look toxic.

It is associated with fatty liver disease, peripheral neuropathies (pain and tingling in hands, legs, and feet), damage to neurons, especially those in the cerebellum, which is involved in physical and thought coordination, and mood. It interferes with the absorption of vitamin B1, which predisposes people to serious cognitive problems. 

Bottom Line

While most Americans believe that consuming less of both drugs is probably best, the fact of the matter is that when you switch from alcohol to cannabis you would begin to see significant improvement in your life in general. If this was adapted by the masses, fact checkers (me) believe that there would indeed be a net benefit to society.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.



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More Than 40% Of People Admit To Doing This While Using Weed Or Alcohol

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By Maureen Meehan

A recent report revealed that more than 40% of U.S. drivers who use both alcohol and marijuana reported driving under the influence of one or both of the substances, according to a new study.

Researchers used data from 34,514 drivers aged 16 and up who reported past-year alcohol and cannabis use. They answered questions as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2016 to 2019.

Here's How Getting High Affects Your Driving, According To New Study
Photo by Elsa Olofsson via Unsplash

RELATED: Driving High On Marijuana Might Not Be As Dangerous As Prescription Drugs

While more than half of respondents said they did not get behind the wheel while intoxicated, 42% admitted they did.

The study 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.

Previous studies have concluded that both alcohol and cannabis can impair cognitive function and motor coordination, making it dangerous for anyone under the influence to get behind the wheel, especially younger drivers with less experience.

“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.

RELATED: Here’s How Getting High Affects Your Driving, According To New Study

“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.

Get Busted Driving With Marijuana And You May Lose Your Vehicle
Photo by R+R Medicinals via Unsplash

Driving High Is Less Dangerous Than Drunk Driving 

While drunk driving dramatically increases the chances of getting into an accident, researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found no evidence to suggest the same was true of marijuana use, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s report, “Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers” that concluded it was about as safe as driving while sober once variables are adjusted for.

The Columbia Mailman School study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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