Canada was not the first nation to legalize cannabis for adult use. That title will always go to Uruguay, which legalized cannabis roughly half a decade before Canada.
However, Canada was the first G-7 nation to legalize cannabis for adult use, and still remains the only G-7 country to do so.
Canada’s legalization model is much more open compared to Uruguay, with anyone of legal age being able to make a purchase since the start of legalization in Canada in 2018.
The North American country instantly became a unique public policy experiment, and lawmakers and cannabis enthusiasts from around the globe have watched closely as things have unfolded.
One thing that cannabis opponents claimed would happen is an increase in issues on public roadways, predicting a type of inevitable “stoned driver epidemic.”
A new study sheds light on why that claim is proving to be false as time has gone by.
No increase in traffic injuries
A study at the University of British Columbia, led by affiliate associate professor Dr. Russ Callaghan, recently explored traffic crash data in Canada.
The goal of the study was to see if traffic injuries spiked after Canada legalized cannabis for adult use, which as previously mentioned, was an expressed concern of cannabis opponents.
“The project reviewed all Ontario and Alberta emergency department data from April 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2019. The team found that, immediately after cannabis legalization, there was no evidence of significant changes in traffic-injury emergency department visits among all drivers or youth drivers,” the researchers stated in a press release announcing the study’s results.
“Implementation of cannabis legalization has raised a common concern that such legislation might increase traffic-related harms, especially among youth,” stated Dr. Callaghan in the press release. “Our results, however, show no evidence that legalization was associated with significant changes in emergency department traffic-injury presentations.”
Never drive while under the influence
It is always worth noting that no one should ever drive while under the influence of cannabis, or any other intoxicating substance.
It’s a matter that everyone should always take very seriously. Public roadways need to be safe so that no one ever gets injured, or even worse, loses their life.
Also, it’s important that people, policymakers especially, understand that just because someone has cannabinoids in their system it doesn’t automatically equate to intoxication.
Motor vehicle policies need to be based on science to help ensure that truly intoxicated drivers are identified and that non-intoxicated drivers are not penalized.