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Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Fewer Traffic Fatalities

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 21, 2016

    cropsThe passage of medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced traffic fatalities among younger drivers, according to data published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.

    Investigators from Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Davis analyzed traffic fatality data from the years 1985 to 2014.

    They reported that states with medical cannabis laws had lower overall traffic fatality rates compared to states where cannabis is illegal, and that there was an immediate decline in motor vehicle deaths following the establishment of a legal cannabis market – particularly among those under 44 years of age.

    Authors concluded: “[O]n average, MMLs (medical marijuana laws) states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. …. MMLs are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years. … It is possible that this is related to lower alcohol-impaired driving behavior in MML-states.”

    An abstract of the study, “US traffic fatalities, 1985-2014, and their relationship to medical marijuana laws,” appears online here.

    18 Responses to “Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Fewer Traffic Fatalities”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      Good news indeed for reformers. Good news for us all if traffic fatalities are reduced. So we increase tax revenues and reduce traffic fatalities. Government never operated with such efficiency before. Congress better screw this win/win up for us all before it becomes acceptable policy.

      Hurray for our side!

    2. mexweed says:

      Not just that cannabis substituting for alcohol makes some drivers safer, but also that legality has made some individuals less afraid to own (and carry in the car) safer-use equipment such as a 25-mg flexdrawtube oneheater or a vaporizer in lieu of 500-mg puffpapers. Stop the car and give yourself three minutes for the toke and the 30 Warm Wet W’s in and out of a luftspielhaus (breathbaglet).
      .
      Maybe it hasn’t been adequately discussed that a Joint (or any hot burning overdose $igarette) adds to driving danger in the case of those phoolishly selfconfident that they can do the lightup one-handed and hold onto the Torch while competent steering continues. Accidents arising from such practice would likely then be blamed on the cannabis of course.
      .
      The Easy-Learn Heat-not-Burn Vape Toke Technique with a flexdrawtube oneheater is unambiguously two-handed and militates against boobish attempts to $moke while driving. Vaping instead of $moking removes some mental performance damage caused by carbon monoxide and 4221 Combu$tion toxins.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Mexweed, once again you’ve hit upon a deeper principle: act with deliberation.

        Driving is a fundamentally dangerous activity, in and of itself; and thus ANYTHING that you do which distracts you from the sole act of driving increases your odds of killing yourself and/or someone else.

        It’s so hard to learn to act with deliberation, to live in the real world, when our society is constantly hustling us down that asphalt cattle chute, serving that almighty dollar.

        Shit. Even I don’t have the patience to stop the car to take a hit! (Don’t worry, I sold my car, I’m a pedestrian now!)

    3. Mark Mitcham says:

      Cannabis saves lives. Let us celebrate this wonderful news!

    4. Mark Mitcham says:

      Consider the organization MADD (Mothers against Drug Driving.)

      I bring up the name of the organization, with my head bowed. Before I quit drinking, I drove drunk a lot. I acknowledge this was wrong of me.

      I only bring up MADD in order to say this: While it might seem counter-intuitive, now might be the time to reach out to MADD to establish a dialogue. We all love our children, no one wants any of them hurt.

      Let’s tell MADD “We fully support you. We seek to mutually establish relevant facts related to harm reduction, in this and all aspects of society.”

      Saving lives will be the goal. But also: In the upcoming era of Trump tyranny, all good people need to join together in the common resistance. Establishing common ground between the legalization movement, and other social justice causes like BLACKLIVESMATTER, Women’s reproductive rights, gay rights, etc, will help form a united resistance against Trump’s power.

      We should seek to broaden that coalition as well, with groups like MADD, who you might not expect to be an ally, but like us, envisions a safer society.

      We can find common ground on these three principles: Liberty, Equality, and Justice.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Sorry for the unfortunate typo: MADD stands for “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” and not “Drug Driving.”

        But, that’s kind of the point I’m getting at: let’s abandon the destructive phrase “Drugs and Alcohol,” a political deception which implies a distinction which does not exist, since alcohol is certainly a drug.

        Yet all drugs are not created equal. We must acknowledge that alcohol is a drug, yet we must also end the “guilt-by-false-association” that seeks to associate marijuana with the damage to society done by alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

        • mexweed says:

          How guilt-by-association works against cannabis: what is an Herb when vaporized becomes a part of a notorious Drug cocktail when wRapped into a 500-mg overdose Joint, burned at 400F-1000F and combined with carbon monoxide and 4221 combu$tion toxins.
          .
          The Australian Department of Health described the Joint (especially when containing admixture of nicotine tobackgo as in a Blunt) as a “Trojan Horse” luring children into the gestures and druggery of $igarette addiction.
          .
          I recognize a humanitarian impulse behind NORML’s not scolding Jointpuffers, and I share justified suspicion of “Tough Love”, but it might be time for some advocacy for flexdrawtube oneheatment. The Open Source free wiki “Make 25-mg Pipes From Everyday Objects” article, expanded and further illustrated, can serve as starting point for an industry that could employ, among many others worldwide, 3,000,000 sweatshopized housewives in India after they retire from handrolling 450-mg nicotine Beedis.

          • Julian says:

            Mexweed,
            A “Trojan Horse” is defined by a gift with which a weapon is hidden inside. A weapon is a relative word in love and war; relative to its quantity and quality. Before we measure the “weaponry” of tobacco or marijuana, whether by smoke or vapor, there exists a decision which defines our soul identity:

            Life is all about choices.

            It is our responsibility to educate eachother yet we all must experience education for ourselves, and decide what is good for each of us on our own. What is good for one may be bad for another. You clearly place a great value on education, which I admire. Let’s focus on the words “toxic” and “poisonous” and help everyone understand why tobacco fits into that catagory while marijuana does not. We cannot overdose on cannabis, or any of its cannabinoids; not unless we axphixiate on its combusted smoke in some kind of bag tied around our head, which through lack of oxygen would kill us anyway.
            However, tobacco is lethal due to nicotine poisoning, even in its whole plant form, or regardless of the toxic additives provided by cigarette suppliers. Meaning excess consumption may lead to overdose or death.
            Its important to make this life or death distinction as much as we can when desribing the difference between toxic or non toxic psychoactive whole plants. In what excess can it kill us? Whether vaporized, smoke-inhaled or ingested? Can we teach eachother the relativity of consumption of any whole plant? Can we grow these remedies and learn to preserve them as medicine whether in alcohol, ingested dried herb, combusted or vaporized form? Can we allow ourselves as human societies to self-medicate whole-plant remedies accordingly without unscientific law enforcement?

            • Mark Mitcham says:

              Yes, apparently the science indicates that nicotine itself induces human cells to become cancerous, even when it is not smoked, as in the case of chewing tobacco and snuff. People can get gum cancer and lip cancer from these products. There are no safe tobacco products.

              But, in a beautiful contrast, science tells us that THC kills cancer cells, and does so by triggering them to self-destruct, without the damage to neighboring cells that occurs with the conventional treatment for cancer, chemotherapy.

              Which reminds me: what the hell is up with the American Cancer Society, anyway? Why aren’t they front and center, demanding cannabis legalization? I would have thought they would have taken a stand by now.

              Or are they like the NRA — like how the NRA doesn’t give a shit about gun rights, if the owner also happens to be a user of cannabis.

            • mexweed says:

              My ignorant (’cause I don’t use it) impression of nicotine is that it is a medicine (a) used by WWI soldiers to stay awake when endlessly on guard in the trench, (b) by 19th-C. tree-killers to stay awake while boringly sawing away on large trunks, (c) by drunk drivers to somehow get the car home from the party. In latter case it (2-)backfires when (a) they run out of $iggarettes and drive into strange neighborhoods looking for a 711, and alcoholic malfunction returns, (b) it helps them feel alert and selfconfident enough to go ahead and indulge in road rage etc.
              .
              Most awthorities don’t consider the nicotine itself a deadly toxin except that it addicts the victims to that well-advertised procedure of chronic overdosing on the combu$tion monoxide etc.
              .
              Regarding present-day politics, “Anger makes everybody stupid, particularly the victims.”

    5. fireweed says:

      Finally someone crunched the numbers on something I’ve been putting out there for years. Now go back and crunch the numbers and compare traffic fatalities in states with the most severe marijuana laws. You’ll find a higher rate of traffic fatalities. Prove me wrong.

    6. Jenni Gifford says:

      I have been using marijuana for years to prevent road rage. I have found it helps with driving in the snow, also it reduces my speeding. I feel it is a shame the stereo type it is a bad drug and it impairs driving. Our law makers are so undereducated about this topic. I wish that they will begin to open their minds and stop the stupidity.

      • Julian says:

        You make an excellent point Jenny, something I dont believe even the NHSA or the AAA reports mentioned, and theyre on our side!
        Aside from driving drunk or driving tired, the two major causes of road accidents, driving angry is right up there for the bronze. And what else can make an American with nothing to do in a hurry angrier than traffic? I had a guy checking his cell phone let a left turn light go red. Thats some @$$-whoopin stupidity right there. (Or you could do what one comedian suggested and pay a homeless guy to throw his dirty windshield wiping bucket through the guy’s sunroof). Im sorry, where was I going with this? Ah yes… how marijuana decreases road rage.
        One fine summer day I was driving out of San Antonio at 5 o’clock ready to get home and drink a cold beer after work with my friends, no a.c., and I hit this massive wall of impenetrable vehicles on I-10 and 1604 they call a “traffic jamb.” I thought about my options: I could:
        A): hit the exit curb, hope a cop wasnt watching, and plow through an industrial park, or
        B): Scream profanities at the guy parked on the exit ramp too scared to merge
        Or
        C) roll a fat joint, call up my local radio station, tell them what Id rather do is hear an old track off Led Zepplin’s Houses of the Holy, called “No Quarter.”
        Im pleased to report I chose option 3 and everyone around me went home safely, and I was happy and life was good.
        Hell, that was 15 years ago: what do we have to complain about, nowadays we can literally youtube our favorite song, plug it into our cat stereo and vaporize if were worried about the smell. (I hold no quarter for lighting up when the car isnt moving, but as a long time member of NORML I do suggest we lock our stash in the trunk if you smell like skunk).

        • Julian says:

          Obviously I meant “car” stereo. Im not sure how a “cat” stereo could calm me down in traffic. :-)
          And the proper phrase is “If it smells like skunk, keep it in the trunk.”

    7. Poobody says:

      Do something other than report on statistics. I would like to see cannabis legal before I die. Jack offs.

      • Julian says:

        Well if you would kindly release your fingers from your genitalia you might find an “election” or a “donate” tab at the top of the screen. You should use them to take action and contact your state and federal Congressman frequently to legalize cannabis. And go meet them in person. Please dont let any intermitent “jacking off” slow you down, regardless of whose at fault. 😉

    8. Keith Kropf says:

      Sooner than we think, we will have self driving cars. Then all we will have to worry about are running over the drunk pedestrians, and maybe a few of those who tried to smoke one of them big ol fatties.

    9. Beer man getting sick says:

      If you love your car your car will love you back.
      Love for the best thing in your life and probably your car because automobiles are so fantastic you don’t want anything bad happening. Take it in. Feel the love.
      And like me. I recommend being vegan for a thousand reasons but it’s not religion. I’d never make it an issue. But love should cover all.

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