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NORML Rebuts AAA’s Claim that Cannabis Increases Auto Accident Risk

The non-profit cannabis-advocating organization rebutted AAA’s claim that drivers who test positive for THC are 25 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident.

Cannabis-advocating organization NORML publicly rebutted recent claims by the American Automobile Association (AAA) that drivers who test positive for cannabis are 25 percent more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.

At a recent AAA Texas-sponsored event, AAA falsely cited a study’s findings, telling those in the audience that drivers testing positive of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, had a significantly higher risk of being in a car accident. AAA was citing a statistic from a 2015 study by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found a 25 percent increase in auto accident risk in those who tested positive for THC. According to NORML, however, AAA misrepresented the findings of the study by quoting the statistic without providing the information that came directly after it.

“Rather, the study in question — conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — determined that THC-positive drivers possessed virtually no statistically significant risk of motor vehicle accident compared to sober drivers,” NORML responded in a statement.

Here’s how the conclusion of the 2015 study reads:

“Authors reported that drivers who tested positive for the presence of THC possessed an unadjusted, elevated risk of accident of 25 percent (Odds Ratio=1.25) compared to controls (drivers who tested negative for any drug or alcohol.”

It then went on:

“However, this elevated risk became insignificant (OR=1.05) after investigators adjusted for demographic variables, such as the driver’s age and gender. After researchers controlled for both demographic variables and the presence of alcohol, THC-positive drivers’ elevated risk of accident was zero (OR=1).”

AAA has spread misinformation about the safety of cannabis in the past in its attempt to oppose legalization efforts. Just recently, AAA Mid-Atlantic replied to claims that the association was spreading untruths while disregarding peer-reviewed evidence by once again reiterating those same false traffic safety arguments.

“We are deeply concerned that lawmakers are considering the legalization of recreational marijuana,” the AAA response read. “AAA opposes the legalization… of marijuana for recreational use because of its negative traffic safety implications.”

Follow up studies by the NHTSA and others have also found that THC-positive drivers often possess little to no elevated risk of auto accidents compared to those that test negative.

Earlier this year, data found that arrests for driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado, where medical and adult use cannabis is legal, is declining. A study examining data in Oregon, another state with both medical and recreational marijuana markets, found that legalization caused no increase in THC-related fatal car crashes. Another recent study found that states with legalized medical marijuana have seen an average 11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities.

You can download the entire 2015 NHTSA study here.

Twenty-nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana and eight states plus D.C. have passed laws allowing adult use cannabis.

Keep up with the latest developments in the cannabis industry by visiting our news page.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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