According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 people each day are killed across the United States in automobile and truck accidents involving drunk drivers. This equates to one death every 51 minutes. In fact, nearly one-third of all traffic related deaths across the nation are attributed to drunk driving. Driving while intoxicated is undoubtedly a national problem and alarming new evidence suggests the problem could become more severe with the increasing legalization and general acceptance of marijuana.

Several states across the country have now legalized the use of marijuana either in small quantities or for medicinal purposes. This past spring, Georgia joined a coalition of states in legalizing cannabis oil for the treatment of eight different medical conditions. While proponents of marijuana usage applaud the bill and the usefulness of this drug for treating medical ailments, some studies suggest that drunk driving rates could be impacted by its passage.

Individuals Who Consume Marijuana and Alcohol More Likely to Get Behind the Wheel

A new study published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, and detailed by HealthDay, uncovered that drivers who smoke marijuana as they drink alcohol are twice as likely to drive drunk when compared to those individuals who only drink alcohol. The simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol is also associated with social troubles, such as drunken fights, divorce and professional issues.

The study analyzed survey data from 2005 to 2010 on alcohol use. The researchers then compared three groups of drivers. The first group consumed only alcohol, the second used marijuana but never in conjunction with alcohol and the final group used the substances together. From the results, researchers gathered that marijuana users were far more likely to use the substances together than separately. The simultaneous users were mostly male and tended to drink more heavily in general than their single use counterparts. The prevalence of drunk driving among the simultaneous users was shockingly high.

This study is important as it reveals some previously unrecognized hazards that could come along with the legalization of marijuana. Efforts to further combat drunk driving and reduce the simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol may be necessary to prevent drunk driving rates from increasing in states that legalize the recreational or medicinal uses of marijuana. States that implement the right safety measures can ensure marijuana is used safely without adding to the already high drunk driving rates.

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