Two US studies differ over effects of marijuana on drivers

Joseph Hough an employee at the Canna Care medical marijuana dispensary displays a pre-packaged marijuana bud Wednesday

Study finds possible link between legalized recreational pot use and risk of car crashes

And according to a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, those states have since seen an increase in insurance claims filed for auto accidents.

It comes a day after recreational marijuana laws in Colorado, Oregon and Washington were linked to a almost three percent increase in auto crashes compared to states that don't allow it.

Although states where recreational marijuana is legal may have experienced a slight bump in traffic collisions, the good news is that there wasn't an increase in crash-related fatalities compared to other states, two new studies show.

"It would appear, probably not to anyone's surprise, that the use of marijuana contributes to crashes", said Kenton Brine, president of the industry group Northwest Insurance Council that represents companies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

"We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization", authors concluded. Legal recreational pot sales in Colorado commenced in January 2014, while Washington and OR followed suit.

"The increased availability of marijuana may be reducing alcohol use in some states", said Santaella-Tenorio.

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.

When the green states were compared on a smaller scale to their neighboring states, the difference in vehicle crash rates went quite a bit higher, especially in Colorado. The republican says he will appoint a commission to study a legalized system.

"The potential effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island would have drastic impacts to the fabric of our state and this commission is necessary to determine if those effects would come with positive or negative outcomes", Canario said. When California voters passed Proposition 64: the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in November 2016, they also voted to dedicate marijuana tax revenues to researching how to define and measure marijuana impairment in drivers.

Washington was second highest with a six percent increase, and OR came last with just a four percent increase.

Meanwhile, the HLDI is planning to conduct more of these studies and has started a large-scale case-control research in OR to determine whether legalized marijuana use is causing automotive injuries. "It is something states need to look at when they're considering legalization". Colorado had the greatest difference with 13.9 percent more collisions than Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming. Marijuana still is an illegal controlled substance under federal law.

A study published past year in the same journal reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.

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