Legalized pot linked to increase in crashes, says study

A report released this week says that states that legalized marijuana have seen an increase in crashes.

The report was released on Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute.

The report looked at two studies that came to similar conclusions. The first found that crashes are up by 6% in Washington, Oregon and Colorado — states that offer legal recreational marijuana — compared to states that do not allow for the sale of marijuana.

A second study looked at the before and after crash rates in states that legalized marijuana. This study found that crash rates increased 5.2% after marijuana was legalized.

A separate 2017 study from the American Journal of Public Health found that legalized recreational marijuana did not have a significant increase on the number of fatality crashes, however.

The report notes that “Marijuana dulls the perceptual and cognitive abilities required for safely operating a motor vehicle (Bosker et al., 2012), and the legalization of recreational sales in several western states has drawn the attention of researchers and policymakers who seek to understand its effects on traffic safety. Results from simulator studies suggest that consuming marijuana increases lane weaving behavior and interferes with drivers’ ability to maintain a constant headway.” Researchers say that it is difficult to “quantify the net effect that marijuana legalization has on real-world traffic safety outcomes” in part because some studies “did not carefully match control drivers to crash-involved drivers or failed to control for concurrent alcohol use.”

With Canada recently legalizing recreational marijuana, many U.S. CDL holders have raised questions about whether pot is now okay for truck drivers. The short answer is no. Federal laws prohibiting truck drivers from using marijuana trump state laws, meaning that if you want to keep your CDL, you need to steer away from weed.