A major debate in the U.S.A. has erupted around how drivers are impaired by the THC in cannabis.
The Institute for Behavior and Health research shows that there is terrible carnage on the roads from cannabis use.
The research is showing that driving after smoking cannabis almost doubles the risk of being in a serious or fatal crash.
But there are no reliable tests either for saliva, blood or urine that are available to determine driving impairment from cannabis use.
Cannabis causes dizziness, slowed reaction time, drifting and swerving for impaired drivers.
In the U.S.A. the percentage of seriously wounded drivers who later tested for drug use increased by 18 per cent between 2005 and 2011.
Research by Colombia University showed that cannabis is often used with other drugs which compound the impairment.
There is no safe level of THC for driving.
(Source: Huff Post Denver online news, 25 March 2012 )
This United States experience shows that cannabis use and impaired driving are becoming an increasing problem.
Like the U.S.A., cannabis is the most widely used drug in Australia.
Likewise our drug impaired driving is causing motor accidents and the related trauma.
Drug impaired drivers should be diverted into detoxification and then rehabilitation to reduce our road trauma.
Driving under the influence of cannabis was associated with a significantly increased risk of motor vehicle collisions compared to unimpaired driving.
The cannabis use is especially associated with fatal collisions.
Cannabis impairs performance of the cognitive and motor tasks necessary for safe driving therefore increasing the risk of collision.
Young drivers under the influence of cannabis surpassed rates of drinking alcohol and driving.
The higher the THC of cannabis used – the higher the risk of collision.
Data for fatal collisions show an increasing presence of drugs other than alcohol used in conjunction with cannabis.
(Source: British Medical Journal published 9 February 2012)
This timely medical study shows the impact of drug driving and its costs.
The new hydroponically produced cannabis with its higher THC content mean that the risks are increasing.
Many times the victims of the collision with drug impaired drivers are pedestrians, other motorists and their families.
When cannabis and other illicit drug impaired drivers are identified, they should be diverted into drug rehabilitation before they are involved in a fatal road accident.
Warnings to drug impaired drivers do not lead to rehabilitation and the ceasing of drug use so the risks continue.
Cannabis use is a risk factor for the development of incidence psychotic symptoms.
Cannabis use precedes the onset of psychotic symptoms in individuals with no previous history of psychotic experiences.
Cannabis use was associated with psychotic experience four years later.
The psychotic experiences included paranoia and hallucinations.
This 10 year study involving over 2000 young adults shows cannabis use as the cause of the psychosis.
(Source: Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10 year follow up cohort study. British Medical Journal 2011:342d738)
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia so the link with psychosis, mental illness and schizophrenia is disturbing.
Clearly mental illness in Australian young adults will cause many problems for these users now and in years to come.
As well, the cost to the Australian community in caring for these cannabis users, the impact on road safety and health costs will be substantial.
Surely getting Australian cannabis users off using cannabis must be a key priority of all authorities.
All Australian identified drug users should be diverted into court ordered and supervised detoxification and rehabilitation to get the users free of drug use quickly and permanently.
Australia and New Zealand were the highest users of cannabis in the world according to a study in the Lancet medical journal.
Up to 15 per cent of 15 to 64 year olds had used cannabis at least once in the past year.
High income countries like Australia report high usage of illicit drugs like cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine and opioids.
The Lancet study found that more than 200 million people used illicit drugs globally.
Police admit cannabis use is high as is cannabis cultivation and trafficking with funds going to organized criminals.
(Source: The Lancet 7 January 2012 reported in the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper)
Australians are exposed to easily available illicit drugs so the demand and the number of users are high by world standards.
Easy availability of illicit drugs and low price encourage the high usage of all illicit drugs.
Reducing the number of illicit drug users by diversion into rehabilitation will improve the health of young Australians and will also limit cultivation and trafficking.
All identified drug users should be diverted into court ordered and supervised detoxification and rehabilitation to get the users free of drug use quickly and permanently.
Australia needs to apply diversion into rehabilitation policies for illicit drug use as it is proven world’s best practice to reduce drug use.
The Dutch government has admitted that modern cannabis with its higher THC is as dangerous as heroin and cocaine.
The Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten informed the Dutch Parliament that cannabis with a THC level of over 15 per cent will be classified as a class A drug and banned like heroin and cocaine.
Pro cannabis voices claim that cannabis users do not want "weak weed".
(Source: United Press International 20 November 2012)
Natural cannabis is more toxic by the use of hybridized strains and hydroponic methods of cultivation which leads to more harms and increasing addiction.
The Dutch have succumbed to the massive scientific evidence that cannabis use leads to brain damage, mental health problems like psychosis, cancer and respiratory illnesses.
As has now been admitted cannabis users need higher doses of THC to get them high as their addiction progresses.
However, in order for Australia to learn from this evidence there needs to be more help given to cannabis users to get them off their use.
Critical to this lesson is Australia’s obligation to reduce the number and extent of cannabis use before it overloads the nation’s health and mental health facilities.
By diverting any identified cannabis users into drug rehabilitation to get them clean of drugs we learn from the mistakes of other countries like the Netherlands who have admitted their policy mistakes.
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