Dr. Russ Callaghan, pictured here at the University of Northern British Columbia is leading a study on the effects of cannabis legalization on motor vehicle collision injuries among young people. (UNBC photo)

UNBC researcher leads study on cannabis-impaired driving

Dr. Russ Callaghan hypothesizes increased motor vehicle collision injuries among young people

A University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) research will be leading a study on the impact of cannabis legalization on motor vehicle collision injuries among young people.

“My hypothesis is that you’re going to see increased use and that use is going to lead to increases in motor vehicle collision harms,” said Dr. Russ Callaghan, a professor with the UNBC Northern Medical Program.

Interested in building on his work with minimum ages for alcohol and tobacco use, Callaghan applied for and received a $124,00 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“When cannabis legalization came about I was interested in how the minimum legal age cannabis laws might affect major harms that might be incurred by young people,” he said.

“I found that these particular minimum age laws [alcohol and tobacco] have a very powerful effect on attenuating harms and substance use behaviour among age-restricted youth.

“The hypothesis is that the minimum age law is going to have a protective effect on underage youth, and then it’s among those young people who are just older than the minimum legal cannabis age that are going to show very pronounced increases in motor vehicle collision injuries. I think you’re going to see increased cannabis use and then subsequent cannabis-impaired driving and injuries related to that in that age group.”

READ MORE: Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Callaghan and collaborators from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the University of Victoria will gather and examine data from hospital emergency departments across the country. He expects they will have results by the end of this year or early next year.

“I was interested in how cannabis legalization might have an impact on cannabis-impaired driving, because cannabis use is quite prevalent among young people,” Callaghan said. “About a third of all young people have used cannabis in the last 90 days and we know that motor vehicle collision injuries are extremely high in that particular age group.

“It is essential for the public and policymakers to understand the potential problems and benefits of cannabis legalization, and this study will provide important evidence regarding a major area of harm to youth and young adults in our society.”

READ MORE: Canadian cannabis edibles, topicals market worth $2.7B already: Deloitte

One benefit of legalization is making more research possible.

“Researchers, if they want to do some studies with people smoking cannabis it’s not an illicit substance so it’s much easier to do research and it’s much more topical now … politicians and public health officials are much more interested in the effects of cannabis right now than they were in the past,” Callaghan said.

“I think there is going to be much more cannabis research in the near future and it’s probably going to be Canadian researchers who are going to be international leaders here because we’re one of the few countries in the world that have legalized cannabis at a national level.”



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friday fatality at Fernie Alpine Resort

Elk Valley RCMP are currently investigating the death of male skier at… Continue reading

Two weekend rescues for Fernie SAR

Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated twice this past weekend to… Continue reading

To Australia from Fernie, helping those back home

With her home country going up in flames over 13,000 kilometres away,… Continue reading

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Edibles now offered in Fernie cannabis shops

As of October 17, 2019, almost a year after the official legalization… Continue reading

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Cariboo Memorial Hospital on the mend after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Most Read