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

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

School District 8 trustees vote in favour of raises

Six of the nine trustees backed the increase in pay

GREG SCOTT: Pulp mill proposed for Procter area

In 1970, a new airline service began to serve Nelson three days a week

Local Whitecaps players moving on to play at university

Mimi Lockhurst and Abby Jackson have graduated from the Kootenay academy

Cottonwood Market stage construction resumes

The stage will be a venue for performances at the market and at other times during the week

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read