Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

Joseph Hough an employee at the Canna Care medical marijuana dispensary displays a pre-packaged marijuana bud Wednesday

As for advocates of marijuana legalization, they say there is still little to no evidence proving the use of marijuana caused any crashes.

"Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in collision claim frequencies that are about 3 percent higher overall than would have been expected without legalization". Another study published Thursday tied an increase in auto insurance claims to marijuana legalization.

Both researchers said there is a lot of speculation about an apparent paradox regarding marijuana laws: Traffic fatalities don't seem to increase in states after the passage of laws allowing recreational or medical marijuana use, even though the drug has been shown to impair driving.

"We believe that the data is saying that crash risk has increased in these states and those crash risks are associated with the legalization of marijuana", Moore said, according to the International Business Times. 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. A urine test, the current measure of whether a driver may be impaired by marijuana, will detect THC, however there is now no scientific consensus on what level of THC constitutes impaired driving.

Findings from the crash fatality study "ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who possessed concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety", said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.

This week, two studies were released examining the effects of driving fatalities in states that have legalized marijuana. Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use also have been inconclusive. Oregon's rate was 4.5 percent higher than Nevada, Montana, and Idaho. "It looks like there's no statistically significant difference before or after, or compared to control states that didn't have those laws passed". But when it comes to driving safety, a new study poses doobie-ous ramifications.

The HDLI didn't just look at those three states. Alabama, Kentucky and Texas were among the states in the comparison group.

Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project, which fights to legalize marijuana, had something to say about that. "HLDI's findings on the early experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause".

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