Economy

Study suggests link between legal weed and spike in auto accidents

Study suggests link between legal weed and spike in auto accidents”

The legalization of marijuana in the United States is happening slowly, and with that, some are moving to stop this new trend in its tracks. After retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, the increase in collision claim frequency was 14% higher than in nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.

Legalization advocates and people who opposed the initiative in ME agree the studies draw valuable attention to the issue and help highlight the importance of keeping impaired drivers off the road, but they disagree on the accuracy of the studies' conclusions.

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a group dedicated to ending marijuana prohibitions, said the report shows "some correlation but not causation".

In states such as Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, the link between legalized marijuana and higher rates of vehicle accidents reveal a 3 percent increase in collision frequencies, researchers from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found.

By examining data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers compared the number of traffic fatalities from 2009 to 2015 in Colorado and Washington to auto crash-related deaths occurring in eight other states that do not allow recreational marijuana.

Moore, from the Highway Loss Data Institute, noted they hope policymakers and regulators will consider the study's findings in states where marijuana legalization is now under consideration or recently enacted. "Our study proved that isn't true", he said. Those searches are not a good barometer for the searches officers conduct after making a stop at their own discretion, the researchers said. Researches would focus on the effect of marijuana would have on a driver's ability on a closed course, not on the open road. But in the end, it's hardly surprising that choosing different comparison states will yield slightly different results on similar measures. Data from Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska (the first 4 states to legalize marijuana) show that traffic fatality rates have remained statistically unchanged post-legalization.

No matter that a recent study suggests that legalized marijuana has not led to significant increases in risks to Colorado drivers, operating motor vehicles while high is a problem in this state that authorities must continue to address. "It seemed to produce more questions than answers".

Full text of the study, "Crash fatality rates after recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado", appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

"No one has looked to see if actual crashes and deaths happened more frequently yet", he said. "The studies reinforce that logic". CNBC reported that field sobriety tests to check drivers specifically for marijuana do not exist. This is interesting as it goes against what many have to say about smoking the drug.

And there's no evidence to suggest that these states are seeing more vehicle accidents due to cannabis. As more adults use marijuana now that it is legal, he believes his deputies will have to deal with more crashes. "It's going to take several years and studies before we can determine that", he said in a telephone interview. Gagnon said driving and marijuana is a frequent topic at meetings he holds with community groups.

But with vehicle crashes in general, researchers at the Highway Data Loss Institute found something else. He argued there was too much at stake in terms of marijuana's impact on public health and state finances. "We have one shot at this".



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