Study: Traffic Fatalities Have Not Increased As A Consequence Of Legalization

The enactment of adult use marijuana regulation in Colorado and Washington is not independently linked to an increase in traffic fatalities, according to a study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators at the University of Oregon compared traffic accident outcomes in Colorado and Washington following legalization to other states with similar pre-legalization economic and traffic trends. They reported, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

Authors concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

The study’s findings are similar to those of a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Public Health which reported, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

A 2016 study reported that the enactment of medical cannabis legislation is associated with an immediate decline in traffic fatalities among younger drivers.

Full text of the study, “Early evidence on recreational marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research. NORML’s fact-sheets on cannabis, psychomotor performance, and accident risk is online here.

9 thoughts

  1. Use your feet, that’s what they’re there for.

    Traffic fatalities are generally the result of goofy primates building multi-ton steel boxes, then climbing inside the boxes, and then launching them through space (and other primates and animals, and whatever else happens to be in the way) at high velocities.

    I could be wrong, but I’m not.

  2. Those links to copy to our next letter to our Congressman by clicking on the ACT tab on this webpage again are:


    These studies are better than the NHTSA studies, some of which admit that the majority of the marijuana consumers in the US are young men under the age of 25 whose auto insurance is higher than they are precisely because young men are more likely to cause an accident.

    And steer clear of the AAA: they’re gumbas for prohibition.

    1. Haha…
      …As I approach my twenties I can say I survived smoking weed because it kept me from drinking too much and making bad decisions…

      …as I approach my thirties I can finally say my car insurance is not higher than I am…

      …As I approach my forties my wife finally gave up complaining I smoke weed because she knows I make the best cookies and the sex is better!

      (Especially with this Lemon Haze and Berry White I’m smokin… I’m like “Whatevah, Whatevah, yeah, yeah…”)

      1. I wouldn’t know as I live in Maryland. I’d need a drs note to be able to get any. A DOCTORS NOTE!!!


    Ever heard of, Paul?

    It’s self reported data, but they just published that from 1,500 people 9.2% of black people said they were fired for failing a company drug test compared to 4% of caucasians.

    I could critique they should separate self-employed construction statistics for marijuana consumption and drug testing compared to the W-2 employed construction stats. But it’s an interesting source nonetheless.

  4. context for road crash concerns, today, has changed, with speeding then alcohol overtaken as main cause of crashes, by distracted driving..

    ie, using mobile phones, texting, checking emails, playing computer games etc..
    grooming [hair, makeup], eating food, drinking, adjusting radios, and so on..

    especially for younger drivers..

    in any question as to road crashes, todays reality is distracted driving,, not cannabis..

    1. I tend to find that loading a bowl or rolling a joint is too important to do while driving. (I tried, it blows my high). Then, once I’m high, if I’m driving, I’m enjoying what I see out the front windshield far more than any distraction on the phone. Amateurs should not try driving high. No one should drive impaired. Know our limits. But for a tolerant-to-THC smoker, it makes a traffic jam SO much more tolerable…

  5. Ive been saying for years.. bring back alcohol prohibition and see just how much those results go down. oh wait they wont they make to much money taxing it and for fines. I have not taken asprin, cough syrup, pills,pharmacuticals or any other substance other than marijuana since 1986 and am perfectly healthy

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