Laws legalizing marijuana on the state level aren’t associated with increased traffic fatalities, according to a new study.
For the study, published today in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers at the University of Texas-Austin evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington before and after the states legalized cannabis for adult use They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.
“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,” the study concludes. Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization and the total number of non-fatal crashes.
“These conclusions ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who have concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety”, says Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML. “These results indicate that such fears have not come to fruition, and that such concerns ought not to unduly influence legislators or voters in other jurisdictions that are considering legalizing cannabis.
A study published last year in the same journal reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.
Full text of the study, “Crash fatality rates after recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado,” appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.