WILL THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA INCREASE THE DANGER ON CALIFORNIA ROADS?
Here’s the headline: “Legalizing Marijuana for Recreational Use Results in Increased Crashes.” So says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS). Based on a recent Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) study that studied crash data since 2014 in the first three states to legalize marijuana, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as compared to data in control states without legalized recreational marijuana, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. According to the study, the collision claim frequencies in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are approximately three percent higher than would be indicated if the states had not legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Three percent does not sound like a lot but is still considered significant.
Even though the study tried to account for variables such as weather, driver demographics, and so on, the astute reader might wonder how the study could account for one important variable: stoned drivers in the control states. The study could not possibly account for how many drivers in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming were under the influence of marijuana at the time of the claim. Although the recreational use of marijuana in those states is still illegal, people in those states use marijuana, and drive under its influence.