Insurers: Crash claims up in first states to legalize pot
Insurers: Crash claims up in first states to legalize pot
23 June, 2017, 07:39
A 2014 report by the Colorado Department of Transportation found that 84 of 684 drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for marijuana, while more than a third of the 488 fatalities involved alcohol, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Twenty-one states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs.
Mason Tvert, communication director of the Washington, D.C. -based Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, questioned the methodology of the Institute's study. That study will attempt to determine if marijuana use is linked to automotive injuries, according to CBS.
The study found collision claims in Colorado, Washington, and OR went up 2.7 percent in the years since legal pot sales began when compared with surrounding states.
OR had a 4 percent increase compared to Idaho, Montana and Nevada.
CNBC noted that the study also did not look at highway fatality rates in states where marijuana use is legal.
The Highway Loss Data Institute said its study examined claims from January 2012 to October 2016. Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality. "The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state". The group used data from insurance claims and not law enforcement records. All three states have legalized recreational weed: Washington and Colorado in 2012, and OR in 2015.
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Colorado saw the biggest estimated increase in collision claims after retail marijuana sales began in Colorado.
It found a 3 percent increase in collision claims in those states compared with Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada, where it is not legal.
A combined analysis with a larger control group brings the increase in frequency to 3 percent.
While the results from HLDI's study seems intuitive, this is actually the first time that researchers have been able to find a definitive connection between marijuana usage and crashes.
There's been a spike in crashes since the legalization of marijuana in Washington State and experts say that could lead to higher insurance premiums for drivers. In the coming years, more research from the institute and others will help sharpen the focus.
Colorado experienced a 14 percent increase in collision claims compared with nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming. The team reported its study results in today's (June 22) issue of the American Journal of Public Health. In other words, people could be substituting pot for alcohol. An additional 17 states permit limited access for medical use.
On average, the traffic-related death rate for those aged 15 to 44 dropped following the passage of medical marijuana laws.
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