Driving after cannabis use presents “less risk” than some prescription medicines

21st June 2021

An Australian researcher suggests that driving under the influence of cannabis could be less risky than driving while on certain prescription medicines.

The AAP reports that in a recent analysis by Professor Iain McGregor from The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney he claimed some drugs are more dangerous to use than cannabis while driving.

He said: “The risk is probably considerably less than with many medications such as antidepressants, opioids and benzodiazepines.”

Professor McGregor found that opioids and benzodiazepines can more than double the risk of crashing.

According to the Australian Associated Press, more than 100,000 people have been prescribed for medical cannabis as of March 2021 but a lot of them have been taken to court when caught consuming the medicine.

Justin Sinclair, from the medicinal cannabis company Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, said the country needed regulatory clarity and an exemption from drug driving laws for people who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis.

There has been some evidence to support Professor McGregor’s theory. As we reported last year, while driving under the influence of cannabis no doubt carries its own risks, these are often considered to be different to those associated with other drugs.

For example, current research suggests that many of those who drive after cannabis use tend to compensate by driving under the speed limit and taking fewer risks.

Nevertheless, one study found that, like alcohol use, “cannabis use increases reaction time and the number of incorrect responses to emergencies.”

According to research carried out in France, drivers under the influence of alcohol are 17.8 times (12.1-26.1) more likely to be responsible for a fatal accident while the same number with regards to cannabis is 1.65 (1.16-2.34).

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