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Friday, September 13, 2013

More Teens Driving High Than Drinking

The United States is taking a more relaxed approach to marijuana and the punishments associated with the drug. With legalization in two states and medical marijuana programs in many more, it is not surprising that the federal government is stepping back. However, the concern of those driving under the influence of marijuana is ever present, for the fact that there has been an increase in marijuana use among teen drivers throughout the country.

In fact, there is a higher percentage of high school seniors that say they have driven after using marijuana more than they have driven after having five or more alcoholic drinks, according to a new study.

Research showed that 12 percent of seniors that had driven after using marijuana in 2011, compared with 10 percent in 2008. The study determined that 28 percent of high school seniors said they had ridden in a car in the previous two weeks with a driver who had used drugs or alcohol, or had driven after having used drugs or alcohol themselves, NBC News reports.

The Monitoring the Future project conducted the study; they survey approximately 17,000 high school seniors every year.

“It’s a big deal… the sheer numbers,” University of Michigan researcher Patrick O’Malley told NBC News. “It has been increasing steadily and looking down the road, it seems likely to get worse. We are concerned.”

It is not known how much marijuana impairs a person’s driving, according to researchers. “We don’t have any good degree of impairment,” O’Malley said. “It’s almost impossible to say what the level of marijuana in your system is.”

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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