As the use of cannabis for medical purposes becomes increasingly prevalent, driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) is emerging as a major public health issue. Understanding current behaviours, attitudes and perceptions around DUIC in medical cannabis users is an important first step in addressing this issue.
Here we present the results from the driving-related subsection of the Cannabis as Medicine 2018-2019 Survey (CAMS18) of current Australian medical cannabis users (n = 1388).
Of the 806 respondents who reported driving a motor vehicle in the last month, 34.6% said they typically drive within 3 hours of cannabis use, thereby risking DUIC, while more than 50% waited at least 7 hours before driving. A majority of respondents thought that their medical cannabis use did not affect their driving ability, and most denied any specific effects of cannabis on speeding, risk taking, reaction time, attentiveness or lane departures. A substantial majority (70.9%) felt confident in accurately assessing their own driving ability after using medical cannabis.
Binary logistic regression showed that frequency of use and confidence to assess driving ability were strongly related to DUIC behaviour (i.e. driving soon after cannabis use).
These results suggest a relatively high prevalence of DUIC and low perception of risk among this sample of medical cannabis users.
Further research is needed to better understand the acute and chronic effects of medical cannabis use on driving and the relation between perceived and actual driving ability.