Pot Legalization Link To Car Crashes Varies By State, Study Findings

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According to a paper published by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, recreational marijuana use is linked with car crash trends. The study did not find that recreational marijuana sales were the only cause of the increase in accidents.

The legalization of recreational marijuana usage was associated with a 6.5 percent increase in crashes involving injuries, and a 2.3% rise in fatalities. The study showed that legalization and retail sales had a cumulative impact of a 5.8 percent increase in injury crash rates and an additional 4.1 percent in fatal crashes.

These results varied across states with injury crash rates fluctuating between a 7 percent drop and an 18% rise, and fatal crash rates fluctuating between a 4 percent to 10 percent increase. Colorado saw the greatest increase in injury crash rates following legalization and retail sales at 17.8 percent. Nevada saw the greatest decline in fatal crashes at 9.8 per cent.

“Legalization removes the stigma of marijuana use, while the onset of retail sales merely increases access,” Some users who have avoided driving high before may now feel it is okay to do so after legalization.

Farmer said, “Studies seeking to establish a causal link between marijuana use, crash risk, and marijuana use have failed to find any evidence.” There is no objective measurement of how impaired a marijuana user is, unlike alcohol.

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Triple I notes that most studies show impaired coordination, memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, reaction time, and associative learning. This research shows that driving ability has been reduced, but the extent of impairment is still being studied.

Traffic accidents are more common in younger drivers than those in older drivers. Younger male drivers are particularly at risk. The early evidence suggests that younger male drivers are more likely to drive while under the influence.

A second study in the journal Drug Dependence shows that chronic heavy use of marijuana can impair driving skills even if the driver is not high. The worst results are seen for those who began using marijuana regularly before 16.

These results show that marijuana’s effects vary across different demographic groups. It is therefore important to be careful when using this drug.

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