Driving while high: Facts and public attitudes


James Lynch, I.I.I. chief actuary, presented on March 24, 2018 to the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. This report begins with a comparison of public attitudes from 1969 to 2017 that asks whether or not marijuana use should be legalized, and demonstrates that over that period public sentiment has moved in favor of the use of cannabis. In 1969, only 12 percent of respondents approved legalization. By 2017, that number had increased to 64 percent. Despite a majority in favor of legal cannabis use, driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal across the U.S., with a central issue still unresolved: what constitutes illegal impairment? Comparing BAC to THC level is of little use, even though both result in impairment. There is substantial evidence supporting that THC impairment leads to a higher rate of motor vehicle crashes, and the chance of an accident increases with consumption. The PowerPoint also details the results of an Insurance Information Institute survey that examined public attitudes about cannabis and alcohol use as they relate to impaired driving.


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