nsucurrent.com February 22, 2018

A sticky situation: Legal weed linked to increased collisions

24 June 2017, 12:52 | Violet Powell

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division Lewis Koski

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division Lewis Koski

There could be a link between marijuana and auto wrecks - let us explain.

Although states with legalized marijuana laws have more auto crashes, the number of fatalities from accidents haven't increased, a new study has found.

"The states that made marijuana legal appear to have seen some increases in collision claims, but there is no evidence that marijuana contributed to those increases".

However, the study did not indicate whether the increase in collisions were directly caused by drivers who were under the influence of marijuana.

So far, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and even more are considering legislation.

MA started allowing recreational marijuana use in the state at the beginning of the year.

NORML's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.

Mason Tvert, communication director of the Washington, D.C. -based Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, questioned the methodology of the Institute's study.

"The potential effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island would have drastic impacts to the fabric of our state and this commission is necessary to determine if those effects would come with positive or negative outcomes", Canario said.

The findings showed that "Colorado saw the biggest estimated increase in claim frequency compared with its control states".

Aydelotte says the study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute didn't use the same common denominator that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses for its crash deaths (how many billions of miles are traveled in that state).

Vehicle accidents have gone up nearly 3 percent in Colorado, Washington and OR since 2013. But when it comes to driving safety, a new study poses doobie-ous ramifications.

"The combined effect for the three states was smaller but still significant at 3 percent", Moore said.

Clearly, more research would help.

The study compared crash frequency before and after legalization and, using neighboring states as controls, found a almost 3% increase. Results from the study are expected in 2020.

Year-over-year changes in crash fatality rates in the two recreational pot states were similar to those in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, said lead researcher Dr. Jayson Aydelotte.

"The worst thing that could have happened to the state of Colorado was passing the marijuana law", Lonnie Britton said.

"Worry that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates isn't misplaced", asserted David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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