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Inbox: “Study Challenges Assumptions On Marijuana Road Safety”

A new insurance-focused study reportedly “debunks the notion that legalizing marijuana leads to increased road accidents.”

The research, conducted by auto industry reporter David Straughan, focused “on four states that fully legalized marijuana in 2016 – California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada,” and “found that traffic fatalities either decreased or remained stable over the three years following legalization, in contrast to states where marijuana remained illegal.”

Imagine that.

According to a media release about the report, the “comprehensive analysis, which examined U.S. and Canadian traffic data, also failed to establish a statistically significant change in accidents and fatalities after marijuana legalization.”

As for booze—”the study highlights that alcohol, legal in all 50 states, remains a factor in nearly a third of automotive fatalities.” Meanwhile, “the study’s findings challenge the common belief that marijuana legalization negatively impacts road safety, emphasizing the need for nuanced understanding and evidence-based discussions.”

Key insights include:

  • Initial data indicated a 6.0% increase in vehicle death rates in legalized states, slightly below the national average increase of 6.2% from 2016 to 2021.

  • Excluding 2020 and 2021, legalized states saw an 11.6% decrease in traffic fatality rates from 2016 to 2019, surpassing the national decrease of 10.6%.

“While marijuana can impair cognitive function, the study emphasizes that legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana does not inherently lead to riskier driving behavior,” Straughan wrote in the announcement.

You can view the whole report here