Where Pot Became Legal, Car Crash Deaths Rose


By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 19, 2022 (HealthDay Information) – – Automotive crashes and deaths are on the rise in U.S. states which have legalized leisure marijuana, a brand new examine finds.

“Marijuana, like alcohol and nearly each different drug, modifications how you’re feeling and the way you behave. That’s the aim of a drug. And that modifications the way you drive. All of us want to understand that driving after utilizing marijuana is a nasty concept,” stated lead researcher Charles Farmer, vp for analysis and statistical companies on the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security.

His workforce discovered that after marijuana legalization, the speed of automotive crashes with accidents elevated by almost 6%, whereas deadly crashes rose by 4%. No enhance in these crashes was seen in states that hadn’t legalized marijuana, the researchers famous.

These outcomes are in step with prior research, Farmer stated. “It’s turning into an increasing number of clear that the legalization of marijuana doesn’t come with out value. However marijuana legalization remains to be a novelty, and there’s hope that these early tendencies will be circled,” he added.

Farmer thinks there are methods to assist stop the results of driving excessive. “Perhaps, with the proper training and enforcement methods, states which are both contemplating or within the technique of legalization can keep away from the rise in crashes,” he stated.

For the examine, Farmer and his colleagues checked out 5 states that legalized leisure marijuana for folks 21and older (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada) and in contrast them with states that didn’t legalize pot (Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming).

They discovered that after legalization, however earlier than retail pot gross sales began, the speed of automotive crashes with accidents jumped almost 7%. After gross sales started, the crash price dipped barely (lower than 1%), however the price of deadly crashes shot up about 2% earlier than and after retail gross sales started.

Typically, drivers beneath the affect of marijuana drive slowly, the researchers famous. They could not be capable to keep away from a crash, however their decrease velocity could make the collision much less lethal, Farmer famous.

In earlier research, Farmer’s workforce discovered that marijuana use impacts response time, highway monitoring, lane holding and a focus, all of which might make a crash extra possible.

Farmer would not imagine marijuana legalization is the one explanation for rising collision charges, and the examine cannot show a direct cause-and-effect relationship. And in contrast to alcohol testing, there are not any goal measures of impairment linked to marijuana, so it is not attainable to precisely account for the position marijuana performs in automotive crashes, he stated.

The modifications in crash charges diversified by state: Colorado had the largest soar (18%) and California the smallest (6%) after each legalization and the beginning of retail gross sales. Nevada’s price fell (7%). For deadly crashes, will increase occurred in Colorado (1%) and Oregon (4%), whereas declines had been present in Washington (2%), California (8%) and Nevada (10%).

Alex Otte, nationwide president of MADD (Moms Towards Drunk Driving), stated, “We all know that driving impaired by any drug, alcohol, marijuana or in any other case, is 100% preventable. It is not an accident. It is not a mistake. It is a selection.”

What’s wanted is to alter the tradition so folks perceive that it is not secure to drive after utilizing pot, she stated.

“We hear on a regular basis in popular culture issues like, ‘Perhaps I am a greater driver after I’m excessive’,” Otte stated. “I feel folks simply aren’t conscious, as a lot as they’re with alcohol, that there’s such a threat related to driving beneath the affect of marijuana or different medicine, and I feel numerous it comes right down to consciousness.”

Sooner or later, Otte hopes there might be methods to quantify pot’s results on driving, like there are for alcohol.

“We all know that roadside checks and issues like that to assist an officer decide if that particular person is secure to drive are so necessary and so wanted,” she stated.

Impairment by any drug is a risk to you and everybody else on the highway, Otte stated. “Even one particular person injured or killed is one too many,” she stated. “I need folks to know that this can be a selection they usually have the choice to make the proper selection and to not drive when excessive.”

The report was printed July 19 within the Journal of Research on Alcohol and Medicine.

Extra info

For extra on marijuana, head to the U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse.

SOURCES: Charles Farmer, PhD, vp, analysis and statistical companies, Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security, Ruckersville, Va.; Alex Otte, Nationwide President, MADD; Journal of Research on Alcohol and Medicine, July 19, 2022


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