April 20 is known as 4/20, the national “high holiday” for marijuana enthusiasts everywhere. But just like any other holidays that encourages excess, like New Year’s Eve, acting without caution can have devastating consequences.
A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine determined that fatal car crashes significantly increase following 4/20 parties. Using 25 years of fatal US car crash data, researchers compared the number of deadly accidents between 4:20 p.m. and midnight on April 20 with accidents occurring during the same time frame one week before and one week after 4/20.
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What they found is not really surprising. There were 12 percent more accidents leading up to midnight on April 20 compared to the other dates. You can reasonably conclude those celebrating the 4/20 holiday by consuming marijuana were responsible for the increase, though, the study doesn’t indicate a direct correlation.
“These crashes really don’t have to happen,” the senior author, Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told The New York Times. “In the Netherlands, they’ve had legalized marijuana for years, but they have many more interventions—speed cameras, radar, sobriety checkpoints. The roads in the Netherlands are now much safer than those in the U.S.”
But there are efforts being made. This year the Colorado Department of Transportation launched The Cannabis Conversation, in hopes of better comprehending behaviors behind the driving under the influence of marijuana. CDoT will host open houses across the state to survey individual attitudes regarding marijuana and driving, as well as asking residents to submit to an online survey.
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In addition, cannabis capitals like Denver have public transportation options and My 420 Tours, which will pick up and drop off partiers at grow facilities, breweries, dispensaries, and more. Last year, ride-sharing app Lyft and CDoT partnered to advocate planning for safe rides before consuming cannabis and will be running the same promotion. From March 20 to April 20, you can visit www.320movement.com to claim discounted ride codes.
Oregon police departments too hope to curb impaired driving on 4/20. Law enforcement will increase impairment patrols throughout the month of April in hopes of discourage drunk and high driving.