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Study: Medical Cannabis Patients Show Little Change In Driving Performance After Use

A study of fourteen medical marijuana patients yielded interesting results during a simulated driving study.

Study: Medical Cannabis Patients Show Little Change In Driving Performance After Use
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A group of patients who regularly use medical marijuana showed little difference in driving performance after inhaling cannabis, according to the findings of a Canadian study released recently. Results of the study by researchers from the University of Toronto, Health Canada, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health were published last month in the Journal of Concurrent Disorders.

To conduct the study, investigators assessed the effect that cannabis use has on the simulated driving performance of a group of 14 daily marijuana users. All participants had a medical recommendation to use medical marijuana for an underlying condition and reported that they did so on a daily basis. Subjects were asked to refrain from using cannabis for the 48 hours prior to their participation in the research, although they still had residual blood levels of THC that averaged four nanograms per milliliter prior to using cannabis on the day of the study.

The researchers programmed three different scenarios into the driving simulator to be completed by the participants in the study. Several indicators of driving performance such as speed, the ability to maintain lateral control, and braking were measured during the driving simulations. The study’s subjects were asked to complete the simulations prior to inhaling cannabis and again 30 minutes after.

Following their use of marijuana, the study subjects reduced their mean driving speed. Smoking cannabis did not appear to affect their braking reaction time or their ability to maintain lateral control while driving.

“The purpose of the present pilot study was to investigate the effects of therapeutic cannabis use on simulated driving. It was found that therapeutic cannabis reduced overall mean speed with no effects on straightaway mean speed, straightaway lateral control, or brake latency,” the researchers wrote.

“Further investigation of the effects of therapeutic cannabis on driving are warranted,” they added.

Other Studies on Cannabis and Driving

The study’s authors also noted that while previous studies of cannabis use and driving had shown drivers showed a greater tendency to weave back and forth on the roadway, the drivers they studied did not seem to exhibit the same effect.

“It should be mentioned that, in the present study, therapeutic users of cannabis did not demonstrate changes in lateral control after smoking therapeutic cannabis,” they wrote.

Although some studies have shown that cannabis use may have a detrimental effect on driving performance, a review of existing literature published in the journal of the German Medical Association in 2012 found that habitual marijuana users may be able to avoid impairment.

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“Patients who take cannabinoids at a constant dosage over an extensive period of time often develop tolerance to the impairment of psychomotor performance, so that they can drive vehicles safely,” the report reads.

A.J. Herrington
Written By

A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based writer and photographer covering cannabis and the environment.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lane Myrick

    May 14, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    Dah!!! 44 yr Herb Veteran! Spotless Driving & Criminal Record!
    At times smoked on my way to work! It tuned me in With Sativa!👍

  2. Avatar

    François Colomb

    May 17, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Been a user for 30+ years, and driving and using power tools and machinery, directing a 8 people construction crew with out any problems. I was tested 18 years ago when helping a friend go through drug recovery, and they said, “we have never seen someone who has such a high level of thc being able to function, let alone drive and begin a successful business owner”….😄

  3. Avatar

    Harry K

    May 17, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Definitely not surprising. It is unfortunate how often people group cannabis use in with alcohol use. Cannabis is much safer than alcohol. To learn more about medical marijuana and the effects of cannabis use please enroll at the leading cannabis school, Cannabis Training University. Go to http://www.cannabistraininguniversity.com

    • Avatar

      Barry W Moench

      May 18, 2020 at 5:54 pm

      50+ yrs almost daily use. Pre work, at work, at home. Smoked wherever it wasn’t offending others. Similar experience with testing done 10+ yrs ago; practitioners were amazed at my levels and ability to function without visual impairment. I said for years that my high wasn’t the same as a recreational one and my impairment was minimal. No car accidents due to cannabis use, alcohol is a much greater evil.

  4. Avatar

    Gary Thome

    May 24, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Take note they say “it may cause ” .not that it does cause diminished braking time and lateral stability.

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