Study: As pot rules relax, more U.S. teens driving while stoned

America’s roads are notoriously unsafe on New Year’s Eve, and a new study shows that marijuana legalization could be making the situation even worse.

Almost half of teenagers who regularly use pot admit they’ve gotten behind the wheel while stoned, a new study in JAMA Network Open reveals.

Overall, twice as many teens report driving under the influence of marijuana than admit to drinking and driving, according to results drawn from a federal survey on youth risk behaviors.

Nearly 13% of teen drivers said they’d operated a vehicle while stoned within the past month, compared with 5% who said they drove drunk, the study says.

“Marijuana can impair cognitive abilities that are critical for safe driving,” said lead researcher Dr. Motao Zhu, an associate professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University College of Public Health. “This is a serious issue that requires our attention.”

The wave of marijuana legalization that has swept the United States has likely contributed to the problem by making pot easier than ever to obtain, Zhu said.

Two-thirds of states have passed laws that legalize marijuana use for either medicinal or recreational purposes.


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