States that legalized medical marijuana saw fewer traffic deaths: study

Posted on December 31st, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

medical marijuanaA new study postulates a link between states with legalized medical marijuana and a reduction in traffic-related fatalities. The study was conducted by D. Mark Anderson, a Montana State University economics professor, and Daniel Rees, of the University of Colorado Denver. In looking at state-level data from sources such as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Anderson and Rees found that states with medical marijuana laws saw an average 9% decrease in traffic deaths. "We were pretty surprised that they went down," Rees told the Denver Post.

In an effort to explain the results, Rees said the passage of medical marijuana laws likely resulted in young people consuming less alcohol in favor of cannabis. "The result that comes through again and again and again is [that] young adults...drink less when marijuana is legalized and traffic fatalities go down," Rees told the Post. Anderson, Rees' fellow researcher, told the Missoulian that while the research doesn't prove that cannabis impairs driving less than alcohol, this remains a possibility. "It could be that," Anderson told the paper. "We're saying our results would be consistent with that."

But Discover magazine is skeptical of any strong causal relationship between legalized medical cannabis and traffic deaths. Wrote Discover: "There isn't crystal-clear evidence that medical marijuana laws actually do get people to smoke more pot—the three states they discuss, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have widely varying numbers of people signed up for medical marijuana, and although there was an increase in reported marijuana use in two of the states for some age groups, it wasn't huge."

The study also fails to look at states that have not legalized medical marijuana. The research was posted on the Institute for the Study of Labor's website and is under peer review by the Journal of Law and Economics. (Huffington Post, Dec. 30)

The notion that alcohol use is down in states that have legalized medical marijuana has also been corroborated by other studies.

Graphic by Herbal Remedies 



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