A new study has confirmed what we knew all along: that alcohol is indeed more dangerous than marijuana on the road.
Researchers looked into drug tests from drivers who were involved in more than 3,500 car crash incidents and found that alcohol is more deadly than cannabis. More specifically, alcohol is around 10 times more likely to cause fatal car accidents than marijuana.
The study, entitled “Cannabis, alcohol and fatal road accidents” and which was published in the journal PLOS-One earlier this month, was conducted by scientists at the University of Lyon. The scientists examined a database of more than 4,000 drivers directly and indirectly involved in fatal car accidents that took place in France in 2011. They calculated the heightened risks of driving under the influence of alcohol and cannabis, as well as of other substances, including cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates.
The researchers found that driving under the influence of booze is 17.8 times more likely to cause a fatal car crash than driving sober. Meanwhile, those who drive under the influence of marijuana is 1.65 times more likely to cause a fatal car crash.
This study concluded that in France, alcohol remains to be the main problem as far as car accidents are concerned. It noted, though, that one in two drivers considered to be under the influence of marijuana was also under the influence of alcohol. With the risks made even greater by these two substances, the study emphasized the danger of consuming alcohol and cannabis together.
French study confirms findings in previous studies
These findings are in line with earlier studies on the mortality risks of alcohol and cannabis.
These include a study published in 2015, which found that, at the individual level, alcohol presents the highest risk of mortality, followed by nicotine, then cocaine and heroin. Cannabis was found to be less deadly and even belonged to the other end of the spectrum. Other studies before this have consistently ranked cannabis as the safest among recreational drugs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also published a study – considered to be the largest case-control study in the United States – that found that drivers who had a .08 blood alcohol level, which is the legal limit in most American states, were 293 per cent more likely to get involved in car accidents than drivers who have no alcohol or drugs in their system. Drivers who text behind the wheel have the highest car crash risk: 310 per cent. Meanwhile, drivers who tested positive for THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, are 5 per cent more likely to get into car accidents than those who are clean.
Health-wise, which is more deadly?
If we are not talking about fatal car accidents, alcohol is also considered more dangerous than cannabis. In 2014, more than 30,000 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes that do not include drinking-related accidents and homicides. This was according to the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these drinking-related deaths were caused by chronic liver disease or cirrhosis.
Meanwhile, there have been no deaths directly attributed to cannabis according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Moreover, a 16-year American study involving more than 65,000 people also found that, contrary to what many people believe, healthy cannabis users do not have a greater likelihood of dying earlier than healthy non-cannabis users.