Study shows marijuana use is linked to accident increase

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division Lewis Koski
CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division Lewis Koski
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24 June, 2017

He added: "It would be hard to say that marijuana is a definitive factor, lacking a citation, in a significant number of crashes to say that what we're seeing here is a trend".

Less than 24 hours after Vermont lawmakers put the legalization of marijuana on the back-burner, a new report released by the Highway Lost Data Institute shows auto crashes are 3% more likely in states where pot is legal: Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

And those three states, according to the findings, have seen an overall 3% increase in auto crashes compared to states without legalization.

These reports follow concerns of marijuana abuse as figures show an increase in the number of adults using the drug in states where laws on its use are lax.

"It would appear, probably not to anyone's surprise, that the use of marijuana contributes to crashes", said Kenton Brine, president of the industry group Northwest Insurance Council that represents companies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Marijuana legalization is causing concerns across the USA over high driving and how to accurately test drivers for the substance.

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"More drivers admit to using marijuana, and it is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes", the study said.

The study was released as more states consider legalising marijuana sale, CNBC reported. "The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state". Other states, including California which allows medical marijuana, have looked to these states as models as to whether or not they should also file suit.

It found a 3 percent increase in collision claims in those states compared with Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada, where it is not legal.

The study found that collision claims following legalisation are up 16% in Colorado, 6.2% in Washington and 4.5% in Oregon. "We see strong evidence of an increased crash risk in states that have approved recreational marijuana sales".

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.

The findings showed that "Colorado saw the biggest estimated increase in claim frequency compared with its control states. It is something states need to look at when they're considering legalization". The results of that one should be ready in 2020, so I hope you don't mind waiting. Another valuable piece of research would examine the number of deaths surrounding the illegality of marijuana.


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