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Only a Quarter of Virginia Drivers Said Driving on Pot is ‘Extremely Dangerous,’ Survey Shows

Virginia authorities announced the results of a recent survey on the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving, but things didn’t go exactly as planned: Officials said that the survey shows “unsettling” and “alarming” attitudes about how safe it is to drive when under the influence of pot.

The Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) released new survey results that measure Virginians’ attitudes toward cannabis use and driving according to an October 25 press release.

Stratacomm was a consulting firm for public affairs. The survey received more than 750 responses. This represents a cross-sectional demographic of Virginians ages 16 to 64. 

Around 23% reported that they had consumed cannabis within the last three months, and 14% said that they drove high at least once in the previous year. 

About one third believe cannabis can make them feel better. It is safer driver. Important to note, however is that not all respondents are 16 and therefore still able to drive. This might help to explain the loose attitude towards driving safety.

The data shows that Virginians do not perceive cannabis-impaired driving to be nearly as dangerous as other risky behaviors—like drinking and driving: 60% of respondents view texting and driving and 49% regard alcohol-impaired driving to be “extremely dangerous,” but only a quarter of Virginians—26%—view cannabis-impaired driving as “extremely dangerous.”

CCA will utilize survey data to create a campaign for safe driving that the 2021 General Assembly has mandated. This campaign will emphasize the dangers associated with cannabis-impaired driving and will launch in January 2023.

CCA Board Chair John Keohane said that the CCA had a tough job ahead. “These results are worrying and underscore the General Assembly was right to direct the CCA to undertake a safe driving campaign,” said John Keohane, CCA Board Chair and retired Police Chief of Hopewell, Virginia.

“As a public safety and public health agency, the CCA currently has no greater priority than creating a well-funded, aggressive, and sustained campaign aimed at reducing the incidence of marijuana-impaired driving,” added Jeremy Preiss, the CCA’s Acting Head and Chief Officer for Regulatory, Policy, and External Affairs.

These findings show that not everyone who uses cannabis responsibly in Virginia is responsible: 47% reported not having a plan to sober up, and 24% indicated they had been in a vehicle driven by high-ranking drivers more than once within the last year.

“The CCA wants to empower Virginians to make informed decisions about marijuana use and ensure people understand that operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is extremely dangerous,” concluded Brianna Bonat, the CCA’s lead public health official.

The CCA invites people who are interested in learning more public health and safety information related to cannabis to visit

At the federal level, there are efforts to encourage safe driving while using marijuana. On July 26, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), requested a report on educational campaigns regarding cannabis and driving. To create a specific playbook for State Highway Safety Offices, the GHSA teamed up with National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving.

Canada continues to make similar efforts in order to determine safety requirements for those who use cannabis. The research was published in Canadian Medical Association JournalA research team from Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal conducted a survey in April 2021. They found that similar attitudes to driving while under the influence of marijuana were prevalent.