While ‘reefer madness’ makes headlines – scientific refutations of these claims often go unreported.
Legal pot is not associated with increased traffic fatalities
Federal traffic safety data refutes allegations that changes in marijuana’s legal status has led to increased carnage on the roads.
Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin recently evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization.
They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.
Their findings appeared last month in The American Journal of Public Health.
‘We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization’ they concluded.
Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization laws and the total number of non-fatal crashes.
To those familiar with the available evidence the findings were not surprising.
In fact a prior study published in the same journal in 2016 reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws was associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states – particularly among drivers ages 25 to 44 years old.
Overall traffic fatalities have fallen significantly over the past two decades — during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use.