A sticky situation: Legal weed linked to increased collisions

Crash claims up 2.7 percent in first states to legalize pot

In another study published on Wednesday, the Highway Loss Data Institute analyzed the frequency of auto insurance collision claims in Washington, Colorado and OR, where recreational marijuana is also permitted.

In the study conducted by HLDI, researchers found that between January 2012 and October 2016, accident claims increased by 4.5 percent in OR, 16 percent in Colorado, and 6.2 percent in Washington.

"Worries that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates aren't misplaced", said David Zuby, chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The researchers compared data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System between 2009 and 2015 in Colorado and Washington against eight other states and found legalization is having little impact on traffic trends, reports Reuters.

"These conclusions ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who have concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety", says Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML.

By examining data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers compared the number of traffic fatalities from 2009 to 2015 in Colorado and Washington to vehicle crash-related deaths occurring in eight other states that do not allow recreational marijuana. It also tracked the same information in control states: Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, each of which has varying levels of legalization between full prohibition and medical use.

Data spanned collision claims filed between January 2012 and October 2016 for 1981 to 2017 model vehicles.

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The Institute's Moore defended its approach, saying, "We looked at the correlation of states with similar insurance claim frequencies, and the states we chose had the highest correlation".

Meanwhile, the HLDI is planning to conduct more of these studies and has started a large-scale case-control research in OR to determine whether legalized marijuana use is causing automotive injuries.

"We know there are about 80-thousand consumers a month using marijuana, we know that young people find it incredibly easy to get". Yes, NORML is a pro-marijuana legalization group, but just follow the research provided.

This logic is something to consider when states consider or adopt legal marijuana laws.

The debate over whether marijuana legalization has led to more mayhem on Colorado highways has been raging for years.

Officials did not cite one specific cause for the increase in fatalities, noting contributing factors could include distracted and impaired driving, low seat belt use, and motorcyclists not wearing helmets or other protective gear.

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