There Could Be A Link Between Car Wrecks And Marijuana

Crash claims up 2.7 percent in first states to legalize pot

"You really have to look at carefully the data and what they are talking about".

Interpretations of data aside, statistics tracking the potential effects of legalization are a preliminary baseline in these early years.

This week, two studies were released examining the effects of driving fatalities in states that have legalized marijuana.

The opposing study, from the Highway Loss Data Institute, showed collision claims increased by 2.7 percent overall in Colorado, Washington and OR compared to nearby states, which researchers tie to full legalization. The group used data from insurance claims and not law enforcement records.

The study found that there had been a 16 percent increase in collisions in Colorado, a 6.2 percent increase in Washington and a 4.5 percent increase in Oregon. "But it's safe to say that since retail sales have begun, crashes have increased in these states".

CNBC noted that the study also did not look at highway fatality rates in states where marijuana use is legal.

The study compared the frequency of collision claims from 2012 to 2016 with that of control states without recreational pot sales, including Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, as well as Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization.

Kenton Brine, President of the NW Insurance Council, said the results in the 3 states with legal pot were surprisingly higher.




Trying to gauge how high is too high behind the wheel has long perplexed states. CDOT data on "Drugged Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes" reveals that in 2014, the percentage of drivers in fatal accidents who tested positive for cannabis was 12.3 percent, the highest in more than a decade. And there's another question: What's a reasonable cutoff?

The study already has its critics. "Some studies have found that using the drug could more than double crash risk, while others, including a large-scale federal case-control study, have failed to find a link between marijuana use and crashes". "We're concerned about impaired driving in general", Moore said.

In Washington state and Colorado, NBC News found that searches were cut by more than 50 percent within months of legalization.

"This is a concern and it's a concern worth monitoring and looking at over time", Moore said. A 2016 study conducted by Columbia University analyzed deaths in 19 states before and after medical marijuana was legal. All the efforts have faltered.

Regulate Rhode Island is a coalition leading the legalization effort.

According to researchers, more research is needed in this area to draw even stronger conclusions.

Aydelotte said he would like to see a follow-up study that delves into the "why".

"Studies like these are important so that lawmakers and voters can weigh the pros and cons to make informed decisions,"Aydelotte told Live Science".

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