Insurance group reveals bad news about legal pot in the USA

The study compared crash frequency before and after legalization and, using neighboring states as controls, found a almost 3% increase.

Early Thursday morning, the Highway Loss Data Institute reported that legal marijuana states Colorado, Oregon and Washington had collision claims rates that were 2.7 percent higher than those rates in neighboring states in the three years since legal sales began.

While the results from HLDI's study seems intuitive, this is actually the first time that researchers have been able to find a definitive connection between marijuana usage and crashes. Researchers also looked at prelegalization data in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Insurance industry groups have been closely monitoring accident claims since 2013.

The Colorado State Patrol reports road deaths linked to drivers under the influence of marijuana are up for the third straight year.

But marijuana advocates should make no excuses for the effect that legalization has had on highway safety in the state, even if it is not the effect that alcohol has. All three states have legalized recreational weed: Washington and Colorado in 2012, and OR in 2015. For instance, Colorado's collision claim frequency varied from "a 3 percent rise in claim frequency when compared with Wyoming to a 21 percent increase when compared with Utah", the summary points out. It's worth noting that Nevada, part of the control group, legalized recreational marijuana in November 2016. With that in mind, researchers point to road construction, distracted driving, and increased driving miles as other factors for higher vehicle crash rates. "It's not particularly surprising that if you increase you know, broad access to a drug that impairs driving ability that you're going to see a corresponding increase in more auto crashes".

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Moore said the study is an important step toward equipping states with all the facts as they consider legalizing pot.

Prior to legalization, the crash fatality rates were comparable between Colorado and Washington and the control states, according to a draft version of the report provided by the AJPH to The Cannabist.

In addition to Colorado, Oregon and Washington, five other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for all uses, and 21 states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs as of June.

Be Civil - It's OK to have a difference in opinion but there's no need to be a jerk.

"It would be nice to come up with a better test", says Clarissa Eaton of Concord, "but right now there's nothing concrete that we could use".

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