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Professor to study impacts of the Cannabis Act on motor vehicle collisions

Dr. Russ Callaghan

Northern Medical Program professor Dr. Russ Callaghan is embarking on a new one-year study to assess impacts of the Cannabis Act on motor vehicle collision (MVC) injuries involving young people and cannabis-impaired driving.

The research is supported through a $124,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“A central concern about cannabis legalization is its potential impact on cannabis-impaired driving among young people,” says Dr. Russ Callaghan, the study’s lead investigator. “This research will help to assess this issue.”

Dr. Callaghan and his team will examine data gathered from emergency departments across Canada in order to determine the effects of legalizing recreational cannabis use on patterns of MVC injuries among youth and young adults.

“According to recent data, young people have the highest prevalence of cannabis use in Canada, comprising more than 20 per cent of users,” says Callaghan. “Cannabis-impaired driving is now also more prevalent among adolescents than alcohol-impaired driving.

“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 – that is, the burden of severe motor vehicle collision injuries in this sub population.”

The project includes collaborators from Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia) and the University of Victoria (B.C.).  The study is part of Dr. Callaghan’s ongoing research assessing the potential health risks associated with cannabis use and the potential impacts of cannabis legalization on use and related harms.