Study: Marijuana Legalization Not Associated With an Increase in Traffic Fatalities

According to a new study published in the journal The Review of Regional Studies, neither the legalization of medical marijuana or recreational marijuana is associated with an increase in motor vehicle traffic fatalities.

For the study researchers studied the relationship between marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities over the 35-year period between 1985 and 2019. Although recreational marijuana wasn’t legal in any state until after 2012, medical marijuana was first legalized over 15 years prior. 18 states have now legalized recreational marijuana, while 36 have legalized the plant for medical purposes.

The study found that there was no changes in the rate of fatal motor vehicle crashes following the legalization of medical marijuana, nor were there changes after recreational marijuana was legalized.

“We find lower state traffic fatalities following the implementation of MMLs [medical marijuana laws], consistent with earlier work”, states the study. “This is true whether we employ a simple MML indicator or a continuous indicator of the permissiveness of state medical marijuana laws.” Researchers state that :Controlling for prior MMLs, we find no evidence of a statistically significant association between RMLs [recreational marijuana laws] and traffic fatalities. Further, we find no evidence of an association between traffic fatalities and cross-border recreational legalization.”

The study concludes by stating that the liberalization of marijuana laws “may eventually be shown to lead to more fatalities, at least under some sets of circumstances, as more and different states legalize recreational use and more data accrues. However, as of 2019, we find liberalization has been associated with lower traffic fatalities, not higher.”

The full study can be found by clicking here.

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