Two new studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine added to the preponderance of data showing that the legalization of marijuana at the state level has been associated with an increase of traffic fatalities caused by marijuana-impaired drivers.
“While much information on the long-term impact of the normalization of today’s marijuana won’t be known for years, one thing is crystal clear: marijuana legalization has resulted in the unnecessary loss of life on our roadways,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Given these studies – which find that there would be almost 7,000 more lives lost under nationwide legalization – we are asking for a pause of this reckless experiment until we learn more.”
The first study, authored by researchers from New York Medical College and Harvard University, found marijuana commercialization to be associated with an increase of 2.1 traffic fatalities per billion vehicle miles traveled (BVMT). Furthermore, the study finds that were marijuana to be legalized nationwide, it would be associated with 6,800 excess roadway deaths each year.
The second study found evidence to support the fact that marijuana legalization was associated with an increase in traffic fatalities in Colorado, but not Washington State, contradicting a recent AAA studying finding such fatalities in Washington have doubled since the state instituted commercialization.
Sabet continued, “One thing is clear: marijuana-related traffic fatalities in “legal” states far outpace non-legal ones. This indicates a clear need for more research into marijuana-impaired driving and its immediate impacts.”