It's official: Road fatalities are dropping in weed states vs. non-weed states

It's official: Road fatalities are dropping in weed states vs. non-weed states

VicesDecember 27, 2016 By Brian Frederick

It's one of the most widely used criticisms of anti-pot advocates: More weed = more stoned drivers = more stoner deaths. To them, it seems like an easy to decipher social equation.

However, new data research suggests just the opposite. In fact, states that have enacted some form of cannabis laws are seeing drops in road fatalities. That is, states with legal weed are safer to drive in. Boom.

In a study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers examined fatalities in the 19 states that had MMJ laws on the books by 2014 (the most recent year specific data was available), using numbers taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s archives between 1985 to 2014.

They then compared those with the rest of the country during the same period, taking into account factors like median household income, seatbelt laws, bans on cell phones or texting and any other variable that may have had an impact on conclusory evidence.

What they found is that there was an overall average of an 11 percent decline in states with weed. Hooray.

Researchers went on to suggest in a statement that the results may be explained, in part, by heavy drinkers switching to pot — though they can’t be certain of such a claim.

Or, the culture around booze being completely different in states with legal cannabis than those without. “We found evidence that states with the marijuana laws in place compared with those which did not, reported, on average, lower rates of drivers endorsing driving after having too many drinks,” added Silvia Martins, a physician and the study’s senior officer.

However, out of the 19 states studied, only 7 had decreases in traffic fatalities within the state’s borders, 10 had no significant change, and 2 actually had increases (California and New Mexico). So the results need to be approached with caution, says the researchers.

Because of course, this might mean very little. Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, which could well be the case here. Though this particular study does go against the alarmist theory that legalizing weed is going to spike car fatalities ten-fold. That scenario hasn’t happened, and likely won’t.

So this is a good thing for pro-pot advocates, but maybe a little too early to tell where (or if) these findings will be used in the future.