Medical Marijuana Reduces Traffic Deaths

Thursday, January 19, 2012
No designated driver for Cheech and Chong
Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes can mean fewer drunk drivers on the road, and fewer traffic deaths, according to a new study.
Researchers from universities in Colorado, Oregon and Montana reviewed accident statistics from 1990 to 2009, including those states that had adopted medicinal marijuana laws and those that hadn't. To date, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
States where marijuana can be purchased legally with a prescription experienced 9% fewer traffic fatalities, "most likely as a result of its impact on alcohol consumption by young adults," the researchers wrote in their report. They cite data from the Beer Institute that beer sales fall after medical marijuana laws take effect.
In other words, medical marijuana is allowing some young people easier opportunities to get high instead of drunk, thus lowering the risk of DUIs and accidents, supporters of legalization contend. The researchers posit several explanations for the reduced death rate. For one thing, driver simulation tests show that drivers under the influence of alcohol have less control than those under the influence of marijuana. Also, because marijuana is more likely to be smoked in private, whereas alcohol is consumed in bars and restaurants, marijuana users are more likely to choose a designated driver.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Report: Medical Marijuana Laws Reduced Traffic Fatalities (by Matthew Sturdevant, Hartford Courant)

Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption (by Daniel I. Rees, D. Mark Anderson and Benjamin Hansen, University of Colorado Denver) (pdf) 


Geeboy 12 years ago
when i was in high school, driving was the safest place to go for a toke. 44 years of doing that without an accident says something. funny how :"counterintuitive" this seems to those who think the high is comparable to alcohol, which it is not. when you enjoy driving, you are a better driver than most. cannabis is a gift from god, with so many uses. that's why they can never legalize it. big pharma, big booze, big petrochemicals, big law enforcement, wall street, can't stand it, because they would become obsolete. hey, they could get new jobs in the business it would create, but they are glued to the past.
Duncan20903 12 years ago
the claim that it's legal to drive while impaired by cannabis is patently ludicrous. it most certainly is illegal in every one of the 50 states, the district of columbia, and all of the territories. not only are their laws against driving while cannabis addled they're more punitive than dui laws as a general rule of thumb. in dc a first offense drunken driver can jump through a series of hoops and have his charges dismissed; the cannabis addled driver has no such option. you do no good for the cause of re-legalization by making absurd claims that taking enough cannabis can't cause someone to be too impaired to drive safely. instead of my being able to point out that while these studies don't prove that cannabis addled driving is safe, they do prove wrong the claims of carnage and mayhem on the highways if we pass medicinal cannabis patient protection laws in the hysterical rhetoric of the know nothing prohibitionists, i had to deal with your absurdities. please stop posting nonsense.
anonymouse 12 years ago
people under the influence of marijuana drive more slowly, not more recklessly as drunks do. they tend to be more cautious drivers, perhaps b/c they don't want a confrontation with a traffic cop. but also, perhaps, b/c marijuana simply makes people safer drivers -- they tend not to be in a hurry. if marijuana negatively impacted driving, after 30 years of the knee-jerk "just say no" war on drugs hysteria and attendant political posturing, there would be the equivalent of dwi laws for it in every state in the union; the fact that there are not such laws is another indicator of the relative safety of toking and touring. oh, and the article's suggestion that smokers are more likely to choose a designated driver is ludicrous.

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