Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Do Not Adversely Impact Traffic Fatality Rates

TEXAS: 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.

Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.

“We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization,” authors concluded.

Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization and the total number of non-fatal crashes.

Commenting on the findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who have concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety. These results indicate that such fears have not come to fruition, and that such concerns ought not to unduly influence legislators or voters in other jurisdictions that are considering legalizing cannabis.”

A prior study published last year in the same journal reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.

Fatal accident rates have fallen significantly over the past two decades – during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total fell to under 30,000 by 2014.

Zero-Tolerance School Drug Policies Only Make Drug Use Worse, A Study Finds

WASHINGTON:  There’s nothing like getting kicked out of school to make a kid start jonesing for some weed.

That’s the implication of a new study published last week in the American Journal of Public Health. The authors found that “students attending schools with suspension policies for illicit drug use were 1.6 times more likely than their peers at schools without such policies to use marijuana in the next year.” That result held for the student body as a whole — not just for kids who were suspended.

The study crunched numbers from the International Youth Development Survey, which surveyed representative samples of 7th and 9th grade students in Washington State and Victoria, Australia — two places that are demographically similar, but where schools take drastically different approaches to drug use.

Those approaches are summarized below. “Washington school policies have been more oriented toward total abstinence and more frequently enforced with harsh punishment (such as expulsion or calling law enforcement),” the authors write, “whereas policies in Victoria schools have been more reflective of harm minimization principles.”