States with Medical Marijuana Laws Experience fewer Traffic Deaths

As cannabis laws around the nation face enhanced scrutiny, a new research must calm some of the fears coming from opponents of marijuana. It has been found that states in America that have passed medical cannabis laws encountered significant reductions in fatalities caused by traffic accidents. Averagely, these states have recorded lower automobile-related death rates than those without medical weed regulations. The traffic deaths fell 11% following the establishment of medical cannabis laws and had 26% lower rates of such fatalities averagely when put in comparison with other states. By the end of November 2016, a total of 28 states as well as Washington, D.C had made medical marijuana lawful to some degree despite being unlawful at the federal level. The results of this study were presented in the American Journal of Public Health whose lead author was one Julian Santaella-Tenorio. Santaella-Tenorio is a doctoral student of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at the Columbia University.

The decreased traffic deaths are specifically concentrated among those aged between 15-44 and particularly those in the bracket of 25 to 44 years of age. This research suggests that the mechanisms through which medical cannabis laws cut down on traffic deaths mainly operate in the younger adults, a group that has largely been involved in traffic fatalities related to alcohol drinking. Proponents of the decriminalization of weed often assert that the drug could serve as a substitute for many users of alcohol and therefore permitting weed use could actually revolutionize some of the consequences of public health as a result of heavy drinking. Even though this hypothesis is not yet confirmed, it could assist in explaining the results established in this publication.  States that have already established medical pot laws and the reduced traffic fatalities could be connected to reduced degrees of alcohol-impaired driving tendencies in these states. There is evidence showing that states that have marijuana regulations in place compared with those without averagely reported reduced rates of drivers endorsing driving following heavy booze.

Researchers applied data gotten from Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1985 to 2014. In this period, a total of 1.22 million deaths were reported as a result of automobile collisions around the United States. The trend of the reduced traffic deaths linked with medical cannabis laws is strong and investigators also realize that the opening of cannabis dispensaries produced a similar outcome. However, the effects are not consistent. New Mexico and California for example, both encountered substantial decrease in traffic deaths following the establishment of medical weed laws but later on realized deaths increase steadily. These results offer evidence of the heterogeneity of medical cannabis rules and show the need for continued research on the specifics of implementing the said laws at each level of governance. This also shows that there is a correlation between medical weed laws and other aspects such as a robust enforcement by the police that could impact on traffic fatality rates. It simply means that there are several factors that could correlate with medical cannabis laws that could affect the rate of traffic fatalities.

Other factors that could be listed include the strength of the laws on public health linked to infrastructure characteristics, healthcare systems quality, driving as a partial description for these results in the study. There is a chance for a single study to be flawed. Therefore it is important not to rely on one source of information entirely. All the same, the results reflect same findings that were reported in the Journal of Law and Economics, back in 2013. The choice of marijuana over alcohol could have majorly contributed to this situation.

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