Could Legalized Cannabis Be Increasing Car Crashes?

States began legalizing cannabis for medical use back in 1996 when California passed their compassionate use law. Many states began following suit until 2012 when Washington and Colorado passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Now, some thirty-three states have legalized medical cannabis and ten states have legalized recreational cannabis. Those who are still against the legalization of cannabis claim the number of drug-related car accidents would rise. Several studies have shown that cannabis may raise the accident rate, but the jury is still out since testing cannot usually reveal if a person was under the influence at the time of the accident or not reports The Claims Journal.

On Wednesday, the Insurance Information Institute said that the legalization of marijuana in ten states has increased accident rates in those states.

The group has cited a study from 2018 done by the Highway Loss Data Institute showed that in Colorado, the claims frequency regarding collisions was 12.5% higher than in surrounding states where cannabis was not legal. A similar pattern emerged in Washington, where collision claims were 9.7% higher than surrounding states where the drug was not legal.

A study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research that was published in March of 2018 found the number of fatal accidents in which at least one driver tested positive for marijuana increased after Washington and Colorado legalized the drug.

Advocates are careful to point out that testing for marijuana does not necessarily determine if a driver was high at the time of a crash. Marijuana can stay in a person’s system for days in the case of a blood test and weeks and months in the case of urine analysis.

Advocates also point out that a number of people are found with both alcohol and marijuana in their systems. Using alcohol and marijuana together increases the intoxicating effects of both substances.


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