Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

Jun 24, 2017, 00:52
Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

States with legalized marijuana have more vehicle crashes, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Instead, the group focused on three states - Colorado, where legal marijuana retail sales started in 2014, as well as OR and Washington, where sales began in 2015 - and compared them to the collision claims in neighboring states such as Nevada and Utah, parts of which now allow only medical marijuana.

For example, crash reports in Colorado are 14 percent higher than in nearby states where marijuana remains illegal.

A 2016 study from Columbia University looked at fatalities in 19 different states before and after medical marijuana was legalized. These states had not legalized marijuana, but are comparable to Washington and Colorado in their traffic and roadway characteristics, as well as in their population, vehicle ownership rates and traffic laws.

NORML's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

Those statistics could lead to higher premiums for drivers in states with legalized recreational marijuana.

Twenty-one states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs.

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Doctors with Seton Healthcare recently published a study finding that states with legalized recreational marijuana don't have a greater increase rate of auto crash deaths.

Washington saw a more than 6 percent increase, and OR had a more than 4.5 percent increase. "We see strong evidence of an increase crash risk in states that have approved recreational marijuana sales". Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington.

The studies took distinct angles on marijuana and driving, and it's possible that fender benders in Colorado have gone up since pot was legalized even as fatalities stayed flat. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.

The HDLI didn't just look at those three states.

'Both those who used cannabis occasionally early in adolescence and those who started using it much later during the teenage years had a heightened risk of nicotine dependence, harmful drinking, and other illicit drug use. The results of that one should be ready in 2020, so I hope you don't mind waiting.

Recreational marijuana laws have amounted to a "giant social experiment", Aydelotte said, and officials are now finding out how legal pot can affect public safety.

Zuby added that the findings on cases in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado should provide other states "eyeing legalization pause".

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