First holiday party season with legalized cannabis raises road safety concerns

The first holiday season with legalized cannabis could be a dangerous one on B.C. roads, according to a new BCAA survey released on Dec. 4 that suggests people plan to mix cannabis and alcohol, as well as a “concerning misconception about cannabis impairment.”

The survey, conducted for BCAA by Insights West with both cannabis users and non-users across the province, shows most people expect to see cannabis appear regularly at holiday festivities and be socially acceptable.

In fact, 67% of cannabis users expect to or are open to using cannabis at holiday events, with 54% of this group planning to use both cannabis and alcohol.

Even those who don’t use cannabis now may partake, with 11% saying they’re open to trying cannabis for the first time over the holiday season; this increases to 18% if offered by a relative or friend.

See also: How much pot do Canadians use? Stats Can studied wastewater to find out

Expectations for higher cannabis use raises concerns about road safety this holiday season, with 93% of all survey participants saying they are worried about those who get behind the wheel after mixing alcohol and cannabis.

Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s director of Community Impact, is also concerned about how cannabis and alcohol increase impairment. Further concerns come from a stat showing that 38% of survey respondents believe they are safe to drive after consuming the equivalent of one joint.

“This ‘one joint’ myth is worrisome,” says Pettipas who points out a new groundbreaking McGill University clinical study that proves that drivers are significantly impaired for at least five hours after consuming the equivalent of one joint.

BCAA is also keeping a close eye on other research, including a comprehensive study on cannabis from Statistics Canada in which 25% of users reported they’d driven a vehicle within two hours of using cannabis in combination with alcohol, an increase from 15% in 2017.

“It’s a new era and parties may be a bit different from now on,” says Pettipas.”BCAA just wants everyone to have fun and make good decisions. We continue to implore people not to use cannabis and drive. Stay where you are. Find another way home. Never take chances.”

Survey results are based on an online study conducted from Nov. 2 to 6, 2018, among a representative sample of 814 British Columbian adults, who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points.