Driving under the influence: a multi-center evaluation of vehicular crashes in the era of cannabis legalization
Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2021 Nov 11;6(1):e000736. doi: 10.1136/tsaco-2021-000736. eCollection 2021.
BACKGROUND: Eleven states have instituted laws allowing recreational cannabis use leading to growing public health concerns surrounding the effects of cannabis intoxication on driving safety. We hypothesized that after the 2016 legalization of cannabis in California, the use among vehicular injury patients would increase and be associated with increased injury severity.
METHODS: San Diego County’s five adult trauma center registries in were queried from January 2010 to June 2018 for motor vehicle or motorcycle crash patients with completed toxicology screens. Patients were stratified as toxicology negative (TOX-), positive for only THC (THC+), only blood alcohol >0.08% (ETOH+), THC+ETOH, or THC+ with any combination with methamphetamine or cocaine (M/C). County medical examiner data were reviewed to characterize THC use in those with deaths at the scene of injury.
RESULTS: Of the 11,491 patients identified, there were 61.6% TOX-, 11.7% THC+, 13.7% ETOH+, 5.0% THC+ETOH, and 7.9% M/C. THC+ increased from 7.3% to 14.8% over the study period and peaked at 14.9% post-legalization in 2017. Compared with TOX- patients, THC+ patients were more likely to be male and younger. THC+ patients were also less likely to wear seatbelts (8.5% vs 14.3%, p<0.001) and had increased mean Injury Severity Score (8.4±9.4 vs 9.0±9.9, p<0.001) when compared with TOX- patients. There was no difference in in-hospital mortality between groups. From the medical examiner data of the 777 deaths on scene, 27% were THC+.
DISCUSSION: THC+ toxicology screens in vehicular injury patients peaked after the 2016 legalization of cannabis. Public education on the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis should be a component of injury prevention initiatives.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III, Prognostic.
Source: ncbi 2
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