Please Smoke and Drive? Study Suggests Marijuana Use Reduces Traffic Deaths and Beer Sales

We recently saw how the leading California physicians group has called for the decriminalization of marijuana as no more harmful as alcohol. Now a new study suggests that legalizing medical marijuana has resulted in a nearly nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent reduction in beer sales.

Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver and D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University co-authored the study and published the surprising results “that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults.” The study was based on statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

They looked at traffic fatalities nationwide, including the 13 states that legalized medical marijuana between 1990 and 2009. In those states, they found evidence that alcohol consumption by 20- through 29-year-olds went down, resulting in fewer deaths on the road. They also explored studies showing that pot users are less likely to drive recklessly than alcohol users.

Notably, in three states that legalized medical marijuana in the mid-2000s — Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont — there is no evidence that marijuana use by minors increased.

Obviously, there can be considerable debate over the cause and effect of the legalization and accident rate. I am particularly concern about the relatively small number of people benefiting from such laws and how such a number would produce a meaningful change in overall accident rates.

Here is the summary of the findings:

To date, 16 states have passed medical marijuana laws, yet very little is known about their effects. Using state-level data, we examine the relationship between medical marijuana laws and a variety of outcomes. Legalization of medical marijuana is associated with increased use of marijuana among adults, but not among minors. In addition, legalization is associated with a nearly 9 percent decrease in traffic

The study is entitled, “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption.” It can be found at this site.

Source: Medical Xpress

33 thoughts on “Please Smoke and Drive? Study Suggests Marijuana Use Reduces Traffic Deaths and Beer Sales”

  1. HenMan,

    Aaannnd … 45% of the male population over the age of 60 decided to support same sex marriage.

  2. During my son’s second year (sophomore, in the older terminology) at UVA, he was unfortunately a bystander when a young man at a party got drunk and began to beat up his girlfriend. My kid and three (3) others intervened and brought the angry kid down, while calling 911 who told them that it was not an emergency and to simply bring the kid in to the hospital if he was drunk. So they then bundled him into the car and had two kids kind of restraining him in the back seat while kid 3 and 4 were in the front seat and they managed to get him into the E.R. He thereupon managed to smash up a bunch of medical supplies and overturn a crash cart and push folks around until finally Hospital Security got the police in, who restrained him until he could receive treatment. Meanwhile this and that. My kid called me at 4:00 a.m. to narrate the experience; he was pretty shook up. He said the cops who finished the transaction chatted with him over a cup of coffee, and one of them said, “Damn, I wisht the kids would smoke up like they used to, instead of going back to booze. When they smoked up, they’d all just sit around in a circle and giggle and we never had this kind of stuff. I’d give anything for the old pothead days.”

  3. BO has said that he would leave it to the states but clearly has decided that the war on drugs will rage on into the future billions. He doesn’t care WHAT you think, Dada knows best and jail time is good for you.

  4. “I gotta tell ya, huge fan. As a potential role model I advocate its use”

    “To combat chemo therapy related nausia or for cannabidiols clinically proven ability to inhibit cancer cell growth?”

    “It does that!?”

  5. hahaha, this article mentions marihuana, that’s funny, let’s talk about munchies now, and let’s use the word pothead if possible, and let’s give a coy little giggle, haha, but seriously, I mean, it’s illegal, so it must be really really bad

  6. HenMan, no that is wrong. all medical studies show that comparing people who smoke cigarettes have higher incidences of cancer.
    People who smoke both cigarettes and marijuana have a lower incidence of cancer.
    People who only smoke marijuana show a ‘protective’ effect against cancer, with the lowest level of cancer.
    The AMA used to have a sentence on their official site saying to the effect that the use of marijuana has a proven tumor reduction effect. That sentence disappeared when marijuana activists started sharing it around.

  7. The book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? ( discusses studies that support the inclination toward caution on the part of Marijuana users, as well as numerous others that suggest pot is considerably more benign than alcohol. IIRC, many of the studies they cite were government funded, US federal and off-shore, and some were actually conducted by government agencies. The authors also presented evidence suggesting that two of the biggest lobbies opposing marijuana legalization were the alcohol and private prison industries.

  8. HenMan,

    There has also been a significant uptick in the number of left eyelid piercings in all of the 13 states that had legalized the stuff … “post hoc”

  9. Great, now the beer lobby is going to go into battle in every state that hasn’t legalized the weed …

  10. For what its worth,keep in mind the war on drugs:

    In tapping new head of N.J. medical marijuana program, Christie hires lawman who pledges strict oversight
    Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 8:00 AM

    “State officials made it clear that the appointment of John H. O’Brien Jr., a 26-year State Police veteran, with extensive experience creating and managing managing FBI and state criminal record systems was meant to give an air of strictness and top-down control to the most restrictive medical marijuana program in the nation”

  11. “The War on Drugs”, marijuana theater, has from its inception in the 30’s had two discernible hidden rationales. The first is that its legality is a threat to industry, such as Distillers. Secondly, to those among us who believe human pleasure is sinful and marijuana use because of its psychedelic aspects undermines authority. The problem with this and other like studies
    showing cannabis is not pernicious, is that they will be ignored in the debate on legalization, because the true agenda of opponents is rarely put forth by them.

  12. I seem to recall reading somewhere that some marijuana decriminalization efforts were opposed by beer company lobbying efforts. No doubt, these lobbying efforts were upfront about their economic self-interest and not couched in obfuscating issues.

    A nine per cent reduction in beer sales is a significant enough amount of money to spur the Anheuser-Busch boardroom to a fever pitch of public health evangelism.

  13. OS,

    Of course we have or at least I have….and much to the chagrins of the interests that be…I have yet to see someone in the control group go off like that or….grow a tail….But then Nice Dreams….with Cheech and Chong may have been the wrong movie to have experimented with this group….

  14. I have conducted controlled study groups and sometimes single samples and the conclusions are very much the same…..

    I wonder how many folks in the other related industry’s have been behind the criminalization of weed….plus you get to assign everyone a number that get busted…so much easier to keep control….Hence Mike S….in his recent thread….

  15. Anecdotally canabis tends to make you more cautious; unlike alcohol it does not make you feel more able than you actually are.

    This has been backed up by experiments where people have been asked to assess their capacity and then were tested for coordination and reaction. In general people thought they were worse than they were after smoking canabis.

    I don’t recommend smoking and driving though and most I know would not drive while feeling under the influence of cannabis.

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