Marijuana (Cannabinoids)Pain

Risks of driving while on medical cannabis

Medical cannabis is associated with a number of adverse medical and psychiatric consequences.

Dr. Gary Reisfield (photo), who is Chief of Pain Management Services at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville, has reviewed the risks.

Here’s what we know.

  • Acute use of cannabis results in impairment of every important metric related to the safe operation of a motor vehicle.
  • Epidemiological data show associations between recent cannabis use and both psychomotor impairment and motor vehicle crashes.
    • These associations are strengthened by the concomitant use of alcohol and other central nervous system depressants.
  • Data from pain clinics reveal an unusually high prevalence of cannabis use in nearly all age groups and an association between cannabis use and opioid and other substance misuse.

The bottom line?

Dr. Reisfield concludes, “Concomitant use of cannabis and opioids is an absolute contraindication to the operation of a motor vehicle.”

He continues, “In patients who use cannabis and are prescribed opioids, heightened vigilance for opioid- and other substance-related problems is warranted. It is appropriate to refrain from prescribing opioids to individuals using medical cannabis if there is reasonable suspicion that the combination will pose a risk to the patient or others.”

12/20/10 20:56 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.