States That Have Enacted Medical Marijuana Laws See Drop In Car Crashes
Pot saves the day (and lives)…. Again.
A new study shows that 19 states that legalized medical marijuana in some form or another saw a decrease in fatal car crashes by 11% after the laws were set in place. Although the study analyzed data from 19 states, only 7 of them saw significant decreases while 2 actually saw increases. Despite this, the study’s authors say that these findings debunk the myth that if more people have access to marijuana, this will lead to an increase in car crashes. These 7 states with the largest decrease in deaths were Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Connecticut and Rhode Island were the states that saw an increase in deaths.
The authors also speculated that the drop might have been caused by people turning to pot instead of booze, leading to a drop in drunk driving. The lives that were saved also mostly belonged to the 25-44 year old age group, the same age group that were also commonly involved in deaths caused by drunk driving.
Since the law has different effects on states, it’s safe to say that there are other factors that affect the changes. These could include varied strategies in law enforcement, quality of healthcare available in these states, quality of infrastructure and roads, and public service programs that are designed to address driving under the influence.. Of anything. The researchers also found that there having dispensaries around was linked to lower deaths caused by traffic.
The researchers observed some patterns among these states. In California, as soon as medical marijuana was legalized back in 1996, the state saw a 16% decrease in traffic deaths although in the following years the death rate slowly increased. On the other hand, in Colorado, medical marijuana laws were only passed in 2010 and this had no significant impact although later on there were significant drops in traffic deaths year after year.
The observations were derived from nationwide census data on traffic deaths that occurred from 1985 to 2014 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The data also took into consideration other factors such as current laws on speeding, texting while driving, and seat belt laws. During the course of the study, 1.2 million people died from car accidents nationwide. The study’s authors dug deeper into the findings because of rising concerns that legalization and more states having access to marijuana could result in more car crashes. The data also shows that driving stoned tends to make drivers more careful and act with caution.
It’s not rocket science - we all know that driving drunk is pretty much like asking for a death sentence. And Americans know this - a 2015 Gallup poll showed that only 29% of people thought that driving stoned was a serious problem, while 79% said the same about booze.
Dangers Associated With Driving High Are A Myth
Anti-pot groups continue using a number of stone-age myths and shove it down people’s throats to try to get them to believe the reasons why marijuana should remain illegal. And one of their favorite myths to use is that driving stoned will result in an increase in car fatalities. An article by Forbes which cites the National Highway Traffic Association says that not only is pot safer than alcohol when it comes to getting behind the wheel, but there are less fatalities recorded when marijuana is around compared to booze.
Alcohol is perfectly legal in all states, yet there is no doubt that cannabis is much safer (and even has health benefits!). Given the figures in the studies mentioned, we can hypothesize that people who would normally drink could replace marijuana for alcohol, although more research needs to be done before any conclusion can be made.
I’m not saying that it’s completely safe to drive stoned and that you should try it - driving on any substance at all will put your life (and others’) at risk, but it’s far safer than driving drunk.