Large-Scale Study Shows Traffic Fatalities Significantly Lower in States with Legal Weed

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The November 8 elections were a huge victory for freedom, and it had nothing to do with presidential candidates. Seven states voted to legalize the recreational or medicinal use of cannabis, bringing the total number of U.S. states with some form of legal weed to 36.

Arizona, where pharmaceutical companies donated heavily to anti-cannabis efforts, was the only state that rejected legalization.

One facet of the anti-cannabis propaganda campaign was the claim that roadways will become more dangerous as “drugged driving” becomes more prevalent. However, just as the ‘teen pot use will increase’ claim has been debunked, the ‘dangerous roadways’ myth is also unraveling.

A study published by the American Public Health Association found that states with legal medical cannabis have lower rates of traffic fatalities than states with full prohibition. The researchers analyzed 29 years of data in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

On average, MML [medical marijuana laws] states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. Medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.

The study concluded: “Both MMLs and dispensaries were associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, especially among those aged 25 to 44 years.

Multilevel regression models controlled for factors such as “whether the states had graduated driver licensing laws, as well as median household income, unemployment rates, laws increasing the speed limit to 70 mph or more, laws on enforcing the use of seat belts, and bans on using cellphones and texting while driving.”

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Silvia Martins, the study’s lead author, theorized that part of the reason for this phenomenon may be people substituting cannabis for alcohol. As we know, drunk driving is far more dangerous than stoned driving. In fact, as we reported in September 2015, a first-of-its-kind study found virtually no driving impairment under the influence of cannabis.

Some increased weaving and slower reaction times have been observed, but studies have also found that stoned drivers reduced speeds and increased following distances.

The new study adds to a finding in 2015 that cannabis use does not increase the risk of car crashes.

Studying car accidents in Virginia Beach, Va., during a 20-month period ending in 2012, researchers randomly sampled 3,000 accident-involved drivers and found no evidence suggesting those with marijuana in their system were more prone to accidents, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report released Friday.

Propagandists such as Kevin Sabet of the so-called “Smart Approaches to Marijuana” should drop their disinformation efforts in the face of actual data. But that’s not likely to happen.

Instead, we should focus on the benefits of cannabis legalization, number one being that people regain the freedom to ingest a plant. Government has no place dictating what people can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Thousands of epileptic children across the country are experiencing dramatic improvements in their quality of life – reducing or even eliminating seizures – through access to medical cannabis products. Countless others patients are successfully treating a variety of illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, cancer, glaucoma and a host of others.

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Some people are able to drop their dangerous prescription painkillers as they discover cannabis plays a beneficial role in pain management. This has the potential to counter the opioid epidemic currently gripping the nation.

And let’s not forget the economic benefits of cannabis legalization. A recent analysis found that the Colorado cannabis industry is contributing more to that state’s economy than all other industries. Thousands of jobs are being created and billions in revenue is being generated.

As legalization progresses and more data come in, it’s only a matter of time before the anti-cannabis propaganda machine is destroyed in its entirety.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo. Gardner finds inspiration in the garden and people who promote peace and goodwill to all life.