Analysis: Marijuana Legalization in Canada Not Linked to Upticks in Traffic Crashes

Sherbrooke, Canada: Neither the passage of adult use marijuana legalization nor the growth of retail cannabis sales is associated with any increase in motor vehicle accidents, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Canadian investigators assessed trends in traffic crashes in Toronto in the years prior to and immediately following the adoption of adult-use legalization.

They reported: “[N]either the CCA [Canadian Cannabis Act] nor the NCS [number of cannabis stores per capita] is associated with concomitant changes in (traffic safety) outcomes. … During the first year of the CRUL’s [cannabis recreational use laws] implementation in Toronto, no significant changes in crashes, number of road victims and KSI [all road users killed or severely injured] were observed.”

The findings are consistent with those of other Canadian studies. One study, published last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, “ found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalization patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED [emergency department] visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”

Another study, published earlier this year, similarly concluded, “Overall, there is no clear evidence that RCL [recreational cannabis laws] had any effect on rates of ED visits and hospitalizations for either motor vehicle or pedestrian/cyclist injury across Canada.”

Full text of the study, “Did the cannabis recreational use law affect traffic crash outcomes in Toronto? Building evidence for the adequate number of authorized cannabis stores’ thresholds,” appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review. Additional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance.