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