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Marijuana Driving Study: 31% Of Pot Smokers Think They're Better Drivers When Stoned

A motorist
A motorist

Here's something to think about as you head out of town for Thanksgiving weekend. Turns out California drivers are just as likely to be stoned as they are to be drunk.


According to a survey by the state Office of Traffic Safety, on weekend nights about 7.4% of motorists have marijuana in their systems, while 7.3% test positive for alcohol.

Another finding of note: among those who drive stoned, about 31% said it made their driving better. Hey, we weren't there, but... no, no it didn't.

The survey team operated checkpoints around the state, where drivers were pulled over and offered $20 apiece for a saliva sample. Those who were impaired were given a ride home -- not to jail, because the survey was for science.

The researchers tested for a wide range of drugs, including cocaine, meth, anti-depressants and sleep aids. In all, 14% of drivers tested positive for at least one drug. (One poor fellow tested positive for six of them.)

Though 7.3% had alcohol in their systems, only 1% were legally drunk. 

That raises an interesting question: How stoned do you have to be to be "legally stoned"? Two bong hits and a cookie? And how long do you have to wait before you're OK to drive? Ninety minutes per toke?

Turns out there's no good scientific standards for that, but an enterprising grant writer could probably get some funding to look into it.

Unfortunately, this is a first-of-its-kind study, so we don't have a whole lot of historical data to compare it to, or data from other states. (For example, the results in Utah would probably be somewhat different.) But we have to assume that California -- the home of medical marijuana since 1996 -- has a higher rate of stoned driving than other places, though Colorado may be in the running now too.

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