RIDING HIGH: States where marijuana is legal have most car crashes

According to the HLDI, past researchers haven't been able to "definitively connect marijuana use with real-world crashes", and even a federal study failed to find such a link.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, an established insurance research group that studies insurance data to observe emerging auto-safety trends, reported that Colorado, Washington, and Oregon's collision claims have climbed 2.7% since legal recreational marijuana sales began.

Colorado experienced a 14 percent increase in collision claims compared with nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.

Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use. Many states have considered legalizing recreational marijuana because of public opinion and because of its possible revenue generation.

Mason Tvert a marijuana legalization advocate says this study leaves more questions than answers.

The combined effect for the three states was a small but significant nearly three percent, according to the HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.

The enactment of statewide laws regulating the adult use and sale of cannabis is not associated with subsequent changes in traffic fatality rates, according to an analysis of traffic safety data published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Tropical Storm Calvin forms in Pacific, hits southern Mexico
Tropical-storm-force winds - 39 miles per hour or greater - should subside by early Tuesday morning. Up to 6 inches of rain is expected to fall in the states of Tabasco, Morelos, Mexico and Michoacán.

The researchers knew it'd be tough to confirm a link between pot and vehicle crashes, so they made a decision to focus on the three states in the study - and compare the numbers of auto accidents claims before and after legalization. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington.

Colorado saw the biggest estimated increase in claim frequency compared to its control states, according to the institute. "We see strong evidence of an increase crash risk in states that have approved recreational marijuana sales". A new study is saying it may be due to recreational marijuana.

Washington was second highest with a six percent increase, and OR came last with just a four percent increase.

The HDLI didn't just look at those three states. But what is surprising is the results from a new study from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

Researchers based their findings on comparisons with neighboring states, which resulted in wide ranging outcomes.

Zuby added that the findings on cases in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado should provide other states "eyeing legalization pause".

So there have been more vehicle crashes in legal states, but there's no reason to believe marijuana is the culprit.

  • Marjorie Miles