Traffic Deaths Drop in States With Medical Marijuana Laws
A new study concluded that both medical marijuana laws (MML) and dispensaries were associated with the decline in traffic fatalities. According to Julian Santaella-Tenorio, lead author of the study, instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, they actually saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected.
Since 1996, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. In their study, researchers have found out that in some states, the number of people killed in traffic crashes decreased after medical marijuana laws were enacted.
Moreover, they have discovered that traffic fatalities dropped 11 percent on average in states where medical marijuana was legalized, after analyzing 1.2 million traffic deaths, including those of drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians, nationwide from 1985 through 2014. Their findings also revealed that the decrease was particularly striking in 25- to 44-year-old persons. The latter is considered to be the age group with a large percentage of registered medical marijuana users.
However, the authors don’t claim that the legalization of medical marijuana and the decrease of deaths on the road are of a “cause and effect” nature.
The researchers of the study are Julian Santaella-Tenorio, DVM, MSc, Christine M. Mauro, PhD, Melanie M. Wall, PhD, June H. Kim, MPhil, MHS, Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH, Katherine M. Keyes, PhD, Deborah S. Hasin, PhD, Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, and Silvia S. Martins, MD, PhD.
- Based on the new study, California and New Mexico experienced decrease in traffic deaths.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on the other hand, disclosed that marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a traffic crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana consumption.
- Meanwhile, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that fatal crashes involving drivers who used marijuana doubled in Washington after it legalized the drug.
- From 2007 to 2014, the number of nighttime weekend drivers nationwide with marijuana in their system increased about 50 percent.
- From 2013 to 2015, an estimated 4.6 percent drove within an hour of using marijuana.
Drugged Driving and Marijuana Legislation
Driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana and other drugs is a grave threat to other motorists, cyclists, passengers, and pedestrians. Being “high” on Kentucky roads is putting more lives at risk. In Kentucky, a person is guilty of DUI if he or she operates a motor vehicle under the influence of any substance that impairs one’s driving ability. As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I have always urged our motorists to drive sober, stay focused, and be responsible whenever they are on the road.
Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that Democratic Senator Perry Clark recently submitted a proposal which aims to create a taxed and regulated cannabis market throughout the Commonwealth. It is interesting to see how our lawmakers push for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. I hope that our legislature will handle this issue properly.