Cannabis safer than alcohol for drivers (?)

Someone brought to my attention a link to a site with the intriguing name “The Daily Chronic’. It appears to be a pro-cannabis site.  They came across a paper in Accid Analysis and Prevention by a pot advocate but which seems to show that marijuana is safer for drivers than alcohol.  Even if confirmed, I dont think this is a basis for ignoring the need to put limits on cannabis use by drivers but, judge for yourself. Here is an excerpt from the report:

“Danish researchers assessed the overall risk of a driver being severely injured in an accident after having consumed alcohol, illicit substances, or various types of pharmaceutical drugs, including opioids, benzodiazepenes, or so-called ‘Z-drugs’ (sedatives/sleep aids) such as Ambien. Case samples (N = 2490) were collected from severely injured drivers in selected hospitals in six European countriesCases were matched against nearly 16,000 randomly stopped controls. Odds ratios were adjusted for age, gender and country.

Investigators reported:

“The highest risk of the driver being severely injured was associated with driving positive for high concentrations of alcohol (≥0.8 g/L), alone or in combination with other psychoactive substances. …The second most risky category contained various drug-drug combinations, amphetamines and medicinal opioids. Medium increased risk was associated with medium sized BACs (at or above 0.5 g/L, below 0.8 g/L) and benzoylecgonine. The least risky drug seemed to be cannabis and benzodiazepines and Z-drugs.

They concluded:

“[A]mong psychoactive substances alcohol still poses the largest problem in terms of driver risk of getting injured.

Full text of the study, “Risk of severe driver injury by driving with psychoactive substances,” appears online in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director for the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Link to the Daily Chronic: http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/25061/cannabis-associated-with-less-risk-of-traffic-accident-compared-to-alcohol-prescription-drugs/

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