AAA Survey Underscores Misconceptions About Drugged Driving

A new study released by AAA this month shows many Americans believe it is less dangerous to drive after using marijuana than it is to drink and drive, text while driving, talk on a cell phone while driving, or drive while drowsy.

AAA surveyed 3,349 American drivers ages 16 and older.

The study found only about 70% of Americans said it was dangerous to drive after using marijuana — compared with 96% who said drowsy driving was dangerous.

In other words, drivers believe it is riskier to drive while sleep-deprived than it is to drive under the influence of marijuana.

However, the AAA study cited 20 years of research that concluded drivers under the influence of marijuana are more than twice as likely to crash.

Last fall officials in Colorado announced that marijuana-related traffic deaths had risen 151% since the state legalized marijuana.

All of this underscore what we keep saying: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.

Read the AAA survey results here.

NYT, WP Columns Underscore Dangers of Marijuana

On Sunday an opinion-editorial by Dr. Kenneth Davis and Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek appeared in the New York Times highlighting the dangers of marijuana-use among children.

The column reads in part,

It’s tempting to think marijuana is a harmless substance that poses no threat to teens and young adults. The medical facts, however, reveal a different reality.

Numerous studies show that marijuana can have a deleterious impact on cognitive development in adolescents, impairing executive functionprocessing speedmemoryattention span and concentration. The damage is measurable with an I.Q. test. Researchers who tracked subjects from childhood through age 38 found a consequential I.Q. decline over the 25-year period among adolescents who consistently used marijuana every week. In addition, studies have shown that substantial adolescent exposure to marijuana may be a predictor of opioid use disorders.

The reason the adolescent brain is so vulnerable to the effect of drugs is that the brain — especially the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision making, judgment and impulsivity — is still developing in adolescents and young adults until age 25.

That same day the Washington Post published a news report highlighting the threat marijuana poses to children, teens, and young adults, writing,

“Underage kids have unbelievable access to nuclear-strength weed,” said Andrew Brandt, a Boulder, Colo., software executive whose son got hooked while in high school.

With some marijuana products averaging 68 percent THC — exponentially greater than the pot baby boomers once smoked — calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms have risen. In the Denver area, visits to Children’s Hospital Colorado facilities for treatment of cyclic vomiting, paranoia, psychosis and other acute cannabis-related symptoms jumped to 777 in 2015, from 161 in 2005.

The increase was most notable in the years following legalization of medical sales in 2009 and retail use in 2014, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health published in 2018.

“Horrible things are happening to kids,” said psychiatrist Libby Stuyt, who treats teens in southwestern Colorado and has studied the health impacts of high-potency marijuana. “I see increased problems with psychosis, with addiction, with suicide, with depression and anxiety.”

We have written time and again about the serious dangers associated with marijuana — even so-called “medical marijuana” — including:

Sunday’s op-ed in the New York Times and article in the Washington Post simply underscore what we have said all along: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.

Gov. Hutchinson Signs Marijuana Restrictions

This week Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a bill-signing ceremony for two bills that restrict marijuana edibles and marijuana advertising.

S.B. 440 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Elm Springs) prohibits marijuana stores from selling marijuana-infused candy and other foods that are likely to appeal to children.

We have read time and again about children hospitalized after eating gummies, cookies, or other foods laced with so-called “medical” marijuana. S.B. 440 helps protect Arkansas’ children from this dangerous drug.

S.B. 441 by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R – Rogers) and Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R – Elm Springs) restricts medical marijuana advertisements in much the same way as tobacco advertisements. Marijuana ads cannot target children. They cannot be placed near schools or daycares. And they have to include disclaimers about the dangers of marijuana.

This bill will help tighten Arkansas’ restrictions on “medical” marijuana.

Family Council was pleased to support both of these bills during the legislative session, and we enjoyed attending the bill-signing ceremony with Gov. Hutchinson, Sen. Bledsoe, and Rep. Lundstrum this week.