Earlier this month, we presented Cars.com readers with an overview on the state of the drugged driving issue and where it's headed with regard to scientific study and law enforcement as more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana. But based on many comments we and our affiliates received on the story, how lawful marijuana could be absorbed into the legal system as it pertains to driving safety was not the conversation readers wanted to have. A great many, instead, preferred to discuss their belief that driving while high is less dangerous than driving while drunk — or, according to some, not dangerous at all.
As a federal study nears completion in hopes of nailing down definitive data on how using marijuana affects driving abilities, other studies have shown that weed smoking is far less likely to result in a car crash. According to a New York Times story, an aggregated report of many individual studies concluded a widely accepted twofold increase in the risk of a crash when the driver had any measurable amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his or her bloodstream. While that figure pales by comparison to alcohol's nine- to 20-fold risk increase depending on the driver's age, researchers stated they do believe marijuana is a crash contributor, if perhaps a less-than-expected one.