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The place Pot Turned Authorized, Automobile Crash Deaths Rose

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 19, 2022 (HealthDay Information) – – Automobile crashes and deaths are on the rise in U.S. states which have legalized leisure marijuana, a brand new examine finds.

“Marijuana, like alcohol and nearly each different drug, adjustments how you’re feeling and the way you behave. That’s the aim of a drug. And that adjustments the way you drive. All of us want to comprehend that driving after utilizing marijuana is a nasty concept,” mentioned lead researcher Charles Farmer, vice chairman for analysis and statistical companies on the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security.

His crew discovered that after marijuana legalization, the speed of automotive crashes with accidents elevated by almost 6%, whereas deadly crashes rose by 4%. No enhance in these crashes was seen in states that hadn’t legalized marijuana, the researchers famous.

These outcomes are in step with prior research, Farmer mentioned. “It’s changing into increasingly more clear that the legalization of marijuana doesn’t come with out value. However marijuana legalization remains to be a novelty, and there’s hope that these early developments could be rotated,” he added.

Farmer thinks there are methods to assist stop the results of driving excessive. “Possibly, with the correct training and enforcement methods, states which can be both contemplating or within the strategy of legalization can keep away from the rise in crashes,” he mentioned.

For the examine, Farmer and his colleagues checked out 5 states that legalized leisure marijuana for individuals 21and older (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada) and in contrast them with states that didn’t legalize pot (Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming).

They discovered that after legalization, however earlier than retail pot gross sales began, the speed of automotive crashes with accidents jumped almost 7%. After gross sales started, the crash fee dipped barely (lower than 1%), however the fee of deadly crashes shot up about 2% earlier than and after retail gross sales started.

Typically, drivers below the affect of marijuana drive slowly, the researchers famous. They could not be capable of keep away from a crash, however their decrease velocity might make the collision much less lethal, Farmer famous.

In earlier research, Farmer’s crew discovered that marijuana use impacts response time, street monitoring, lane maintaining and a focus, all of which might make a crash extra possible.

Farmer does not consider marijuana legalization is the one reason for rising collision charges, and the examine cannot show a direct cause-and-effect relationship. And in contrast to alcohol testing, there are not any goal measures of impairment linked to marijuana, so it is not attainable to precisely account for the function marijuana performs in automotive crashes, he mentioned.

The adjustments in crash charges assorted by state: Colorado had the largest soar (18%) and California the smallest (6%) after each legalization and the beginning of retail gross sales. Nevada’s fee fell (7%). For deadly crashes, will increase occurred in Colorado (1%) and Oregon (4%), whereas declines have been present in Washington (2%), California (8%) and Nevada (10%).

Alex Otte, nationwide president of MADD (Moms Towards Drunk Driving), mentioned, “We all know that driving impaired by any drug, alcohol, marijuana or in any other case, is 100% preventable. It is not an accident. It is not a mistake. It is a alternative.”

What’s wanted is to vary the tradition so individuals perceive that it is not protected to drive after utilizing pot, she mentioned.

“We hear on a regular basis in popular culture issues like, ‘Possibly I am a greater driver once I’m excessive’,” Otte mentioned. “I feel individuals simply aren’t conscious, as a lot as they’re with alcohol, that there’s such a threat related to driving below the affect of marijuana or different medicine, and I feel a variety of it comes all the way down to consciousness.”

Sooner or later, Otte hopes there can be methods to quantify pot’s results on driving, like there are for alcohol.

“We all know that roadside exams and issues like that to assist an officer decide if that individual is protected to drive are so essential and so wanted,” she mentioned.

Impairment by any drug is a risk to you and everybody else on the street, Otte mentioned. “Even one individual injured or killed is one too many,” she mentioned. “I need individuals to know that this can be a alternative they usually have the choice to make the correct alternative and to not drive when excessive.”

The report was revealed July 19 within the Journal of Research on Alcohol and Medication.

Extra info

For extra on marijuana, head to the U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse.

SOURCES: Charles Farmer, PhD, vice chairman, analysis and statistical companies, Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security, Ruckersville, Va.; Alex Otte, Nationwide President, MADD; Journal of Research on Alcohol and Medication, July 19, 2022

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