Is Marijuana the Leading Cause of Accidents on the Road?

Arapahoe County Colo. Sheriff's Office shows Renee Rayton. States with legal marijuana have an ethics problem. Not just because they're violating federal drug law. They also have to look out for pot regulat

Traffic searches by highway patrols in Colorado and Washington dropped by almost half after those states legalized marijuana in 2012, concluded a report by Stanford's Open Policing project, which analyzes police data in an effort to show patterns of police behavior with the public.

A study published Thursday afternoon in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that in the three years since Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, motor vehicle crash fatality rates increased but were "not statistically different" as compared to those in eight comparable states that had not legalized cannabis.

"It's tricky to say what the exact magnitude of legal marijuana is on this increase", said Matt Moore, senior vice president of the Virginia-based nonprofit.

Laws legalizing marijuana on the state level aren't associated with increased traffic fatalities, according to a new study.

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A study released past year by AAA's safety foundation found legal THC limits established by states with legal marijuana have no scientific basis and can result in innocent drivers being convicted, and guilty drivers being released.

The institute's new analysis of real-world crashes provides one look at the emerging picture of what marijuana's legalization will mean for highway safety as more states decriminalize its use.

Each of the individual state analyses also showed that the estimated effect of legalizing recreational use of marijuana varies depending on the comparison state examined.

In the coming years, the HDLI hopes more research will help sharpen focus and assess how legalized marijuana use might be changing the risk of crashes with injuries.

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The study was released as more states consider legalising marijuana sale, CNBC reported. The results of that case-control study should be available by 2020.

The Institute's Moore defended its approach, saying, "We looked at the correlation of states with similar insurance claim frequencies, and the states we chose had the highest correlation".

A new study that links auto crashes to marijuana shows vehicle accidents have gone up nearly three percent in three states where it is legal.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety spokesman Russ Rader adds that alcohol impairment remains one of the biggest concerns on the road.

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"Their findings might be in the same direction as ours", Julian Santaella-Tenorio, a Ph.D.candidate in public health at Columbia who led the earlier study, told Live Science. Distracted driving through texting and cell phone use, road construction, and more people behind the wheel are likely contributing to the higher number.

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