Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

"We certainly know it's never good to use an impairing substance and then drive, but marijuana affects the body very differently than other drugs do", Griffin said.

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use has cost three states when it comes to road safety, a new study finds.

And those three states, according to the findings, have seen an overall 3% increase in auto crashes compared to states without legalization.

Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado is resulting in an increase of collision claims.

Eight states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Buried in the reporting was this key caveat: "Researchers haven't been able to definitively connect marijuana use with more frequent real-world crashes".

Researchers from Columbia University also found there was a rise in heavy use of the drug and are concerned this prevalence could lead to higher abuse figures.

However, a recent insurance study released last week claimed there is link between increased vehicle crash claims to legalized marijuana.

The combined effect for the three states was a small but significant nearly three percent, according to the HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.

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However, a separate review of traffic fatality data kept by the Federal Highway Administration showed that fatal wrecks occurred in Washington and Colorado at about the same rate both prior to and following implementation of legal marijuana.

Doctors with Seton Healthcare recently published a study finding that states with legalized recreational marijuana don't have a greater increase rate of vehicle crash deaths. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington.

Washington's estimated increase in claim frequency was 6 percent higher than in Montana and Idaho, and Oregon's estimated increase in claim frequency was 4 percent higher than in Idaho, Montana and Nevada. OR voters approved legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and sales started in October 2015.

"The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes", Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI, said. "It is something states need to look at when they're considering legalization". The team reported its study results in today's (June 22) issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"The increased availability of marijuana may be reducing alcohol use in some states", said Santaella-Tenorio.

Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and an adviser for Freedom Leaf.

Subin says she is disappointed legalization will have to wait in the Green Mountain State, "The status quo is not acceptable and it's not a neutral place to allow the policy to lie". But based on the data the HLDI crunched, perhaps it's best if drivers in Colorado, Washington and OR started walking and biking a bit more.


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