19 Jan Even older, regular users of cannabis should refrain from driving after cannabis use
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Patricia Di Ciano, PhD
Scientist, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Toronto
Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute
Collaborative Program in Neuroscience
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: It is now fairly well established that cannabis has a detrimental effect on driving. The most consistently reported effect of cannabis on driving is to increase ‘weaving’ on the road. We know that cannabis use is on the rise in people over 65 years of age. In fact, over the past few years cannabis use is increasing the most in this age group.
Despite this, there are few studies of the effects of cannabis on people over 65; most studies have been conducted on younger adults. We know that there are important age-related changes in the way the body works that may alter the impact of cannabis on the body. Also, older adults may have more experience with cannabis and this can change the effects of cannabis.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In our study we invited adults over the age of 65 to smoke their usual cannabis in the lab. They also drove a simulator before and after smoking the cannabis. We found that cannabis increased ‘weaving’ and also decreased speed. This decrease in speed is consistent with findings that people drive more carefully after they use cannabis, as a compensation for perceived impairment. In fact, when we asked participants if they were willing to drive they reported that they were less willing to drive after using cannabis.
They also told us that they felt the ‘good’ and other effects of cannabis on their bodies. Levels of blood tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were also increased after smoking cannabis. The intoxicating effects of cannabis are due to the effects of THC on the body. Most participants in this study were regular users of cannabis for non-medical purposes. This is important because people may believe that cannabis may not have an effect on them because they are regular cannabis users.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The main take away from this report is that older users of cannabis should refrain from driving after using cannabis, even if they believe that cannabis will not affect them because they have been using cannabis regularly for a long time.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?
Response: The characteristics of people over 65 are changing; older adults are using cannabis more now than in the past. There is very little research into the impact of cannabis on people over 65. Where there is research on older adults, there are few comparisons to younger populations. It is important to understand how cannabis may differentially affect older adults.
Diisclosures: This study was funded by Transport Canada.
Di Ciano Pdoi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.52233Rajji TK Hong L, et al. Cannabis and Driving in Older Adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(1):e2352233.
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Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Marie Benz MD FAAD