States with legal marijuana have more car crashes, IIHS study finds

High Drivers

BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- States with legalized marijuana have more car crash claims, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The study, which tracks collision claims from 2012 to 2016, found that Colorado had almost 14 percent more crashes than neighboring states where marijuana was still illegal.

"The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes," says Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI. "The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state."

Police in Maine could soon face a new issue surrounding marijuana and driving: social clubs are scheduled to become legal in February of 2018. 

"My biggest concern is just the public safety standpoint. People getting behind the wheel while they're high," said Officer John Roma, a drug recognition expert with the Brunswick Police Department. "Are we going to have more people driving? That's a question that we can't answer right now, but it's something that we need to watch because it puts us into a different dynamic that other regions are going to be watching."

The study points out that the scientific community has not found a direct link between marijuana use and driving safety.

The Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for legalizing cannabis, said in a statement: "the states that made marijuana legal saw some increases in collisions claims [...] there is no evidence that marijuana contributed to the accidents."

Officer Roma said police statewide are pushing to get more officers trained in more advanced measures of recognizing impairment under multiple substances, not just alcohol.
 
Supporters of the social clubs have said in the past that they agree: there need to be safeguards to prevent people from driving high and potentially putting others at risk.

Read the full study

 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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