An Alarming Number of Americans Think Driving High is Okay

You might think it's common sense to avoid driving after taking a mind-altering substances, but that's apparently not the case for a surprising number of people. More than 20 percent of Americans think that driving while high on marijuana is okay, according to the results of Civilized's 2019 Cannabis Culture Poll.

Civilized recently teamed up with PSB Research and Burson Cohn & Wolf to survey 1,000 Americans and over 600 Canadians on cannabis. For the most part, our respondents recognized that they shouldn't drive after smoking up. Nearly half (45 percent) of Americans and more than two-thirds (67 percent) of Canadians agreed that driving high is very unsafe. However, a startlingly large portion of the population doesn't see cannabis-impaired driving as a big issue.

This reckless attitude is most common among the people who are most likely to follow through with it. Roughly half (48 percent) of American cannabis consumers said driving while high is either very safe or somewhat safe. In contrast, only 24 percent of Canadian consumers agreed, but that number is still much too high for anyone concerned with keeping Canada's roads safe.

On top of that, 55 percent of American and 36 percent of Canadian cannabis consumers said they'd be comfortable with riding in a car with an impaired driver.

Those stats are a major thorn in the side of marijuana reformers. Our poll found that the most common reason to oppose cannabis legalization involves road safety: 47 percent of Americans said they were afraid that legalizing recreational cannabis use would lead to more drug-impaired drivers on the road. Canadians were even more concerned about high driving, with 57 percent calling it the best argument against legalization. And based on the attitudes of consumers, the opponents have good cause to be concerned.

So, not only are you putting the safety of yourself and other people at risk when you drive high, you're also promoting the stigma that cannabis consumers are irresponsible. And you're fueling fears that legalization will endanger society.

By and large, these preconceptions of consumers are untrue. Most people who enjoy marijuana are hard-working, highly educated and healthy individuals. And they can continue to defy stoner stereotypes by committing to calling a cab instead of getting behind the wheel after a smoke sesh.

The Cannabis Culture Poll is an annual study commissioned by Civilized in partnership with PSB Research and Burson Cohn & Wolfe. In March 2019, the poll surveyed 1,602 adults from coast-to-coast in the U.S. and Canada. The research groups, consisting of both cannabis consumers and non-users, were asked a variety of questions about their views about cannabis as well behaviors, habits, and personal experiences.

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Because it has been illegal or stigmatized for decades, the body of cannabis research available is, in many ways, incomplete. But Canada’s federal government is taking advantage of the country’s status as the only G7 country to have legalized marijuana and addressing that issue. It was announced yesterday that nearly 25 million dollars will be used to fund cannabis research in Canada.

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