Cannabis Use and Motor Vehicle Accident Risk

"Cannabis use impairs cognitive, memory and psycho-motor performance in ways that may impair driving.10 Recent data suggest that approximately 5% of Canadian drivers/adults report driving after cannabis use in the past year.39 Large-scale epidemiological studies using different methodologies (e.g., retrospective epidemiological and case control studies) have found that cannabis use acutely increases the risk of motor vehicle accident (MVA) involvement and fatal crashes among drivers.40,41 Recent reviews have found the increase in risk to be approximately 1.5-3.0, an increase which is substantially lower, however, than that in alcohol-impaired drivers. The impairment from concurrent alcohol and cannabis use may be multiplicative, so individuals who drive under the influence of both drugs may be at higher risk for MVAs.42 An expert consensus view was that a THC concentration of 7-10 nanograms per millilitre in serum would produce impairment equivalent to that of 0.05% blood alcohol content (BAC). It was suggested that this level could serve as a 'per se' limit to define cannabis-impaired driving.43 Current research suggests that acute impairment from cannabis typically clears 3-4 hours after use.44
"This time span could be recommended to users as a minimum wait period before driving. The required wait before driving would need to be longer for higher doses, and would also vary on the basis of individual variation."


Fischer, Benedikt; Jeffries, Victoria; Hall, Wayne; Room, Robin; Goldner, Elliot; Rehm, Jürgen, "Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Canada (LRCUG): A Narrative Review of Evidence and Recommendations," Canadian Journal of Public Health (Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Public Health Association, September/October 2011) Vol. 102, No. 5, p. 325.