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One Major Side Effect of Smoking Marijuana, Study Shows 

You might not want to get behind the wheel.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Female driver sits at wheel in car, touches her head.

A recent study has found there may be a major side effect to smoking marijuana: Impairment while driving. Researchers from AAA found that people who drank alcohol and then smoked marijuana were more likely to commit violations such as running red lights, speeding and distracted driving.

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The Cannabis and Alcohol Combo Can Lead To People "Driving Distracted," Study Finds

"If you choose to use cannabis and use alcohol, generally you tend to be the type of person who takes more risk while driving, like running red lights, speeding, and driving distracted," said Skylar McKinley, Regional Director of Public Affairs for AAA Colorado. That's what KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado, reported. 

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in 2019 there were 49 traffic fatalities in Colorado involving someone with THC above the legal limit. The following year, the Colorado Springs Police Department arrested 1,652 people for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"We think these stories are powerful," said Sam Cole, Regional Communications Manager of the Colorado Department of Transportation. "When cannabis users hear them, we think it may change some perceptions and beliefs, and get them to understand the dangers of impaired driving better."

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According to the National Institutes Of Health, the use of cannabis has been linked to an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. "Some people who use cannabis develop cannabis use disorder, which has symptoms such as craving, withdrawal, lack of control, and negative effects on personal and professional responsibilities," the NIH says.

This has not stopped several states and localities from legalizing marijuana in the past few months, with the most visible being New York. The New York Times reported that New Yorkers are permitted to smoke cannabis in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed, excepting schools, workplaces or inside a car. In New York City, it is banned in parks, beaches, boardwalks, pedestrian plazas and playgrounds, where tobacco smoking is banned. So use with caution, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.