New Study: Marijuana Impaired Traffic Deaths Doubled in Washington State Following Legalization

Today, a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the percentage of drivers in Washington State involved in fatal car crashes testing positive for marijuana has doubled since the state “legalized” marijuana for recreational use in 2012.

“Marijuana-impaired driving is rising across all states that have ‘legalized’ marijuana and this study is further confirmation of an alarming trend,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “The marijuana industry, heavily invested in by Big Tobacco, has used irresponsible rhetoric, pushing the narrative that marijuana use is safe, which has led to more people using the drug and getting behind the wheel of a car.”

According to the study, Washington drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for marijuana increased from 9 percent in the five-year period prior to legalization to around 18 percent in the five-year period after legalization. What’s more, the study found that about one in five drivers involved in fatal car crashes in 2017 tested positive for marijuana.

According to a 2018 report out of Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths involving increased 151% following legalization and more than one in five traffic deaths in the state were marijuana-related, mirroring the results of this AAA study of Washington drivers.

“Last year, more than a dozen states rejected legalization, largely due to concerns over drugged driving,” continued Dr. Sabet. “It’s time for lawmakers nationwide to take a deep breath and seriously consider the implications of the further expansion of the commercial marijuana industry.”