Cannabis Use and Driving

Cannabis Use and Driving

An excellent new review of evidence on cannabis use and driving was recently published by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition 

The aim of the report was to synthesize available research evidence regarding risks associated with cannabis use and driving, and identify research on effective strategies for mitigating this risk.    

The report focused on eight areas of research related to cannabis use and driving, including:

1)   Prevalence of cannabis use and driving after use

2)   Risks related to driving after cannabis use

3)   Effects of cannabis use on driving ability

4)   Factors associated with driving after cannabis use

5)   Perceived risk of driving after cannabis use

6)   Detection of cannabis-related impaired driving

7)   Risk mitigation

8)   Public health education 

I highly recommend reading the last two sections of the report on risk mitigation and public health education.


The public health education conclusions drawn in the report were:

  • Public health education efforts have historically focused on harms of cannabis use and strongly discouraged cannabis use.
  • Mass media campaigns for cannabis use are often ineffective due to a reliance on fear-based messaging or portrayal of scenarios that are highly unrealistic or derogatory, eliciting mockery from the intended audience.
  • Maintaining a clear and consistent message that is relatable to cannabis users’ personal experience and those of their peers improves the credibility of messaging.
  • Non-judgmental, factual, and concise messages are more effective at promoting cannabis use-related behavior changes, including change in driving after cannabis use (DACU).   

These conclusions provide an excellent guide for planning future public health education strategies to reduce risks associated with cannabis use and driving. 

 Building on these conclusions, my recommendations for substance abuse prevention and education specialists and organizations in Canada and the US include: 

1)   Provide media campaigns that do not use fear-based messages or negative portrayals of youth or adults who use cannabis.  These should include positive, wellness-focused and evidence-informed messages like those found in the Marijuana Awareness School & Community Campaign:, and

2)   Use clear, consistent, non-judgmental and concise messages that are likely to be more effective.  One practical example is to connect prevention with wellness content like that found in certain evidence-based screening and brief interventions like:

Get the full report on cannabis and driving today: 

Please comment below, and share this important information with your co-workers, community leaders, teachers, substance abuse specialists, and health care providers.    

Thank you!

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