New research from the University of Colorado concludes that the legalization of medical marijuana has reduced traffic fatalities by 9%. The study is the first to examine the relationship between medical marijuana use and traffic deaths.
Traffic deaths are the leading cause of death among young people ages 5 – 34. The researchers found that in the 13 states where medical marijuana has been legalized, alcohol consumption dropped significantly among young drivers, leading to fewer alcohol related fatalities on the road. Makes sense. Where pot is decriminalized, fewer young people are at bars getting hammered.
The Colorado researchers pointed to previous studies which suggest that drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to drive faster and take more risks, while those under the influence of marijuana tend to avoid risks.
Earlier published research (Nilsson, 1981) determined that drivers under the influence of marijuana reduced their average speed 3 to 5%, which would result in a 7% decrease in all injuries and a 15% decrease in fatalities.
The full study, Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption, can be found here. http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=6112
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