Operating a motor vehicle after marijuana use: Perspectives from people who use high-potency marijuana

Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, Melissa J. Krauss, Shaina J. Sowles, Kidist Zewdie, Laura Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: With advancing marijuana legalization in the United States, a primary concern is the possible increase in consequences relating to marijuana driving impairment, especially among people who use high-potency marijuana (i.e., extracts). In this study, the research team assessed the risk perception and experiences of driving under the influence of marijuana by investigating people who use extracts. Methods: Participants from 2 studies were queried about driving after using marijuana. In Study 1, phone interviews (n = 19) were conducted with people who use extracts. In Study 2, people who use extracts (n = 174) were recruited to participate in a nationwide survey via an online existing panel. Responses to marijuana and driving–related questions were qualitatively coded for themes (e.g., riskiness, engagement in behavior) developed by the research team. Results: Prominent themes identified in Study 1 suggested a belief that driving risk following marijuana use is dependent on the individual (i.e., response/tolerance) or the amount/type of marijuana consumed. This theme was corroborated by Study 2 participants. Those who perceived no or minimal risk from driving following marijuana use were more likely to report engagement in driving following extracts use. Conclusions: More research is needed to understand how marijuana, especially in its concentrated form, impacts driving ability in order to develop appropriate and scientifically sound regulations. Such research could subsequently fill the need to improve and more widely disseminate prevention messages on marijuana use and driving risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers R01 DA039455, R01 DA032843) and the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences grant UL1 TR000448 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study sponsors had no involvement in the design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data; the writing of the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Driving under the influence
  • drugged driving
  • impaired driving
  • marijuana


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