Starting in January, driver's education courses will go over the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis.
Starting in January 2023, Massachusetts will become the first state to introduce safety courses educating on the risks associated of driving while under the influence of cannabis. It is also the first state with legal recreational-use cannabis that will have this type of education mandated for young and new drivers.
According to the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles, the American Automobile Association (AA)A)-crafted curriculum, “Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth about Marijuana and Driving,” is designed to teach teenaged drivers about the “risks of cannabis-impaired driving.”
“This is the first generation of driver education students to be licensed since cannabis became legal in Massachusetts, and AAA research shows that impaired driving crashes may increase and continue to injure and kill motorists and their passengers,” officials from the Registry of Motor Vehicles wrote.
“The current driver education module addressing impaired driving will be updated to include research-based information on cannabis, explaining how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, affects cognition, vision, reaction time, and perception of time and distance,” the RMV said in a statement, per Boston Globe.
According to the National Institute of Health, cannabis can “impair judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.”
In June 2021, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reported that vehicle crashes dramatically increased in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington following the legalization of cannabis. However, it is important to note that this particular study showed “no increased crash risk associated with the drug, except when combined with alcohol,” but noted that cannabis’ legalization could lead to more people combining the substances.
And while teens might have been using cannabis for generations, the THC products available today are by no means your grandpa’s hippie weed. Given that the substance is decriminalized in many states, and legalized for recreational use in 21 states, it seems like more states should follow Massachusetts lead.
Whether or not a teen is about to drive, it is always a good idea for parents to make sure they are on the same page as their teens when it comes to using cannabis and being safe about it.