New Study: THC Seldom Detected In Injured Dutch Drivers

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from today’s NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

Belgian drivers injured in traffic accidents are far more likely to possess drugs and alcohol in their systems than are Dutch drivers, according to data to be published in the journal Forensic Science International.

Investigators from Belgium and the Netherlands compared the prevalence of alcohol, licit and illicit drugs in the blood of seriously injured drivers over 18 years of age. A total of 535 drivers – 348 from Belgium and 187 from the Netherlands – were assessed in the study.

Researchers reported, “In Belgium, more drivers were found positive for alcohol and drugs than in the Netherlands. … Alcohol was the most prevalent substance among the injured drivers in Belgium (42.5 percent) and the Netherlands (29.6 percent). … In Belgium there were … more positives for THC (8 percent). … In the Netherlands, almost no positive findings for cannabis were recorded (0.5 percent).

THC tends to have a relatively short half-life in the blood of moderate consumers, but may be present at trace levels in the blood of more chronic users for up to 24 hours or longer.

Investigators declared the findings “remarkable” because “the sample of drivers in the Netherlands (was) younger and included more men than in Belgium.” They also noted that cannabis use was far more popular among the Dutch general driving population (2.1 percent) compared to that of the Belgian population (0.49 percent).

They concluded: “The lower prevalence of alcohol in the Netherlands is associated with a much lower number of crashes and killed and injured drivers. … Despite the high prevalence of THC found in the general driving population, surprisingly almost no THC was found in the Dutch injured driver population.”

The abstract of the study, “Prevalence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances in injured drivers: Comparison between Belgium and the Netherlands,” appears online here. NORML’s white paper, “Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review,” is available online here.

23 thoughts

  1. Nice! And alcohol is legal, marijuana is shunned. I get where this comes from ($$$) but that doesn’t make it right. Someday!!!!! I think legalization will happen in my lifetime (I’m 30) and I hope to see it become common in medicinal use.

  2. People refuse to accept that, unlike Alcohol, Cannabis keeps your judgement intact and hardly affects motor skills.

  3. Alcohol makes a person bold and take risk easily while on the other hand, cannabis makes a person more cautious. If you want proof; allow research.

    A person who do both wants to safely crash out in some place.

  4. Just goes to show, THC impaired is not the same as alcohol or prescription drugs. Once a person is on MMJ for a few weeks driving is not usually a problem. You maybe shouldn’t drive right after smoking a fatty but 30min to an hour your good to go! This cannot be said for alcohol and other drugs.

  5. Most likely a person who is high on cannabis would rather stop the car and enjoy the scenery.

  6. So, legal weed is inversely correlated with driving mishaps.

    Now all we need to do is tell the Feds. Surely, they’re serious about public safety.

    Seriously, I wonder why that is. People on THC are notoriously cautious behind the wheel, but you would think this would be less the case when weed is common.

  7. and some more, lol:

    Myth #5: Legalizing marijuana would cause
    carnage on the highways

    This myth is FALSE

    Early studies showed that people who smoke marijuana have about the same amount of car accidents then people who drink alcohol.

    However, a more closer examination revealed that 85% of the people who used marijuana and had a car accident also consumed alcohol!

    For people only intoxicated on marijuana, the rate was much lower than for alcohol alone. This finding has been supported by other research using completely different methods.

    For example, states that had reduced penalties for marijuana possession experienced a rise in marijuana use and a decline in alcohol use with the result that fatal highway accidents decreased.

    This would suggest that, instead of causing a “carnage” on the highways, legalizing marijuana might actually save lives!

    Tests have also shown that people intoxicated on alcohol drive a lot faster then people who didn’t used alcohol, while marijuana smokers drive a lot slower and approach other cars more cautiously.

    This is because the effects of marijuana makes you more aware of your surrounding so you pay more attention to the things happening around you, it also feels like you are going 60 miles a hour while only driving 30 miles.

    Also I would like to add that I drive my car at least a few times a week after I smoked some joints. The funny part is that I have had my share of car accidents but never while I was high on weed, isn’t that something?

  8. Yeah, and another thing about this topic is the police can see who goes to the coffeeshops and follow them if they suspect them of driving under the influence. In the States things are kept out of sight so the traffic police do not have a visual on who is likely to be unable to drive safely. A lot of Dutch ride bikes so it’s best to live close enough to a coffeeshop to walk or ride bike to, or take public transport, or get it by car and go home or somewhere where you don’t have to drive until the high has worn off.

    Belgium doesn’t allow cannabis coffeeshops so #1 people are more likely to drink to be tamely compliant and #2 things are out of sight and more people don’t want to do it where they can be identified and don’t do it at home, some unfortunately can’t wait till they get home from the long drive to the Netherlands and then toke up while driving, contributing to conditions that occur in accidents.

    You have to decide if you want to let the government treat you like shit as long as you have a full belly, warmth and shelter. Will you continue to act like a cow or a sheep with a full stomach that is tamely compliant with all manner of exploitation and lack of freedom in exchange?

    Are you sheeple?

    I sincerely hope that the summit of Latin and South American leaders rapidly legalize. There’s no good reason to continue put up with all the slaughter just because the U.S. is a big fuckin’ pussy and doesn’t want to legalize cannabis.

  9. If they are comparing two sets of data, shouldn’t their samples from each country be equal? The Belgium sample is near double the Netherlands sample. Wouldn’t this skew the results?

  10. Yeah, no kidding?

    I’ve always known the DUI for marijuana was a myth. They are prosecuting people based on a myth. Now, it is straight up busted. Thank-you! Now perhaps we could introduce some justice into our criminal “justice” system?

  11. Well its obvious because it is legal the Dutch obviously have more access to it. But just like alcohol in the states having a drinking age of 21 just makes people wild! When I was younger I lived in a country where the drinking age was 18. I noticed that because of it being easier to access alcohol and therefore when legal the behavior was not as erratic as say American college students.

    So just having Marijuana legal has people driving safer and preventing less injuries it just shows you that having something illegal does not mean you need to abuse it!

  12. @ Brandon, pot doesn’t “intoxicate” you. Alcohol and tabacco and other drugs contain posions and are “toxicating”. But luckily, some how, not marijuana.

    Unlike this thing about trying to turn “marijuana” into a “bad word”, we need to take to bullshit out the discussion about herb. This mean making sure people understand marijuana *is not* like other drugs, it is not “intoxicating”. You might feel a little loopy, but you’re not going to pass out and drown in puddle of your own vomit. That is something an “intoxicating” material/drug can do to you and weed simply doesn’t have these sorts of “intoxicating” properties.

  13. Alcohol is the real problem and its consumption has fogged the minds of people making them out of control and violent. Even animals are more civil than drunk humans are. Alcohol kills healthy living cells including brain cells. Alcohol destroys parts of the brain that makes us human and in control. Wars are fought, weapons are used to kill and destroy in other countries in the name of freedom to sell alcohol. I am outraged that alcohol is legal!

  14. Alcohol is the worst… but you shouldn’t drive while intoxicated on anything. It may be safer than alcohol, but it’s still risky, just like many medications advise not to operate machinery while taking the medication.

  15. Honestly people driving on a bunch of energy drinks or legal upper pills like caffeine pills and stackers makes me way more nervous than people driving on weed. If I drink a high caffeine energy drink I shake and vibrate like I have been using a riding lawnmower for several hours but no one would question me driving while consuming any of that. Also tobacco can impair driving to. Have you ever dipped? Once or twice a year I take a dip of skoal usually citrus or vanilla and it will make me so dizzy and lightheaded I have to sit down. I Definitely would not recommend doing either while driving unless you do it every day and the affects and not as severe and cannabis is exactly the same. For first time and seldom users the affects are way more intense and can affect your motor skills and senses but for daily users it doesn’t affect them the same way.

  16. I meant push mower in the comment above if you could change that for me moderator then you can delete this if you wish.

  17. The opponents of cannabis with all of its myths and political rhetoric are all just antagonistic remarks to keep it illegal.

    If any of it was true, cannabis would have no problem of being legal and regulated.

    Antagonist knows that cannabis is really safe, but they don’t like you.

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