Marijuana leaf with white outline

Scientists have studied the effects of alcohol for generations. In recent years the rise in the use of cannabis has prompted new studies on the effects of marijuana on health and cognition. One thing is certain: neither drug is a good mix with driving. Both alcohol and marijuana impair one’s judgment,  diminish motor coordination, and slow down reaction time.

And what about doing them together? A new study funded by the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) centers around the simultaneous use of alcohol and pot.

Among the disturbing findings was that those who both drank and smoked marijuana were likely to do both at the same time. Moreover, those who smoked marijuana while drinking were likely to drink more than those not smoking.

One particularly sinister finding involved impaired driving. From the abstract:

“…compared to alcohol only, simultaneous use approximately doubled the odds of drunk driving,”

Whiskey Glass, half fullYou don’t need to be a biochemist to know how poorly someone will drive with a system full of both alcohol and marijuana.  The Catch-22 here is that the impaired faculties that make a person a bad driver also make it more likely that he or she will get behind the wheel.

It’s hard to say what the solution is at this point. Awareness is the first step. People need to know that if they smoke pot and drink, they are going to be more tempted than usual to drive. Friends need to be doubly vigilant. Eventually, legislators might have to look at special laws and ordinances that deal with the alcohol/pot combination.

It’s early days, but not too early to watch out. If drinking while smoking pot is on your agenda, hand over your car keys first. Science is not on your side.

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