Car Accidents Soar in States with Legal Marijuana Laws

A review of states that have legalized recreational marijuana finds that car accidents have skyrocketed.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute released a new study Thursday showing an unintended consequence to legalizing pot — but maybe one that should surprise no one.

“Drugged driving is quickly becoming an epidemic as Big Marijuana continues to spread its false promises that pot is safe,” Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said. “These studies prove that is not the case. People are paying with their lives, and it’s evident the problem isn’t going away.”

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Since the retail sales of marijuana began in Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, HLDI researchers estimated that collision claims per insured vehicle went up 6 percent in a combined-state analysis based on data from January 2012 to October 2017.

The data from Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon was compared to data from Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming where the drug is not allowed.

In a separate study, IIHS compared crashes reported to police before and after retail sales began in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

IIHS estimated that the combined states showed a 5.2 percent increase in the rate of crashes per million vehicle registrations, compared with neighboring states that didn’t legalize marijuana sales, according to the report.

“The new IIHS-HLDI research on marijuana and crashes indicates that legalizing marijuana for all uses is having a negative impact on the safety of our roads,” IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey said in a release. “States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety.”

Now, come on. Who didn’t see that coming? Legalize an intoxicating substance and find more car accidents? Yeah. BIG surprise.

Many states and municipalities have expected the cash to come rolling in with legalizations, but many of the consequences of legalizing an intoxicating substance were not counted on.

For instance, in 2014 Denver was shocked with the number of medical problems widespread pot use created when kids began finding their parents’ pot and became sick ingesting it. It was the same for adults who were not prepared for how potent the pot products could be.

Unfortunately, those problems have not abated in the intervening four years.

In any case, Canada will be interesting to watch as this year it has become the first nation in the hemisphere to legalize pot all across its jurisdiction.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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