Tori C., a student at a large southern university, skips alcohol and smokes pot usually. She feels it keeps her safer. I n the fall of 2014, she was sexually assaulted after a party where she and her attacker had been drinking.

It happens way tx often: More than 690,000 college students arc assaulted each year by someone who has been drinking, NIAAA statistics estimate. The annual number of victims of alcohol-related sexual assaults, specifically, is 97.000. Pot, meanwhile, tends to lessen aggressive behavior. Moderate and high doses may even suppress violence and reduce irritability anti hostility in group settings, according to a review of research in Addictive Behaviors.

Evidence of this is emerging outside the lab. Compared with the first six months of 2013, the murder rate in Denver, Colorado, dropped by 38 percent in 2014, the first year you could lawfully buy pot. The rate of forcible sex offenses dropped bv almost 19 percent. Critics caution, however, that it may be a case of correlation, not causation. For those people who cannot stop drinking, these drug and alcohol treatment centers are amazing with the way they deal with patients.

Tori knows the only person to blame for her rape is her rapist. Still, she says, “I was too drunk to fight back. Drinking inhibits my

ability to function more than pot. When I smoke, I stay in control.”

She feels the same way about driving high. She tries not to drive under the influence of anything, she says, “but if I had to, I could drive stoned. There’s no way I could operate a vehicle drunk.” She’s not way oft’base. A 2010 study published in the American Journal on Addictions found that drivers under the influence of alcohol underestimate how impaired they arc, while participants who smoke pot drive cautiously to compensate. Drunk drivers also have more trouble keeping a car in its lane than marijuana users do.

None of which endorses drugged driving. Pot-related road fatalities appear to be rising: About 12 percent of U.S. drivers in fatal accidents in 2010 had cannabinoids in their system, up from 4.2 percent in 1999. “If you’re high, you shouldn’t be driving,” says Dr. Grant. “One could argue that drunk driving is worse, but that doesn’t mean pot is safe.”


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