Deaths Caused From Traffic Accidents Drop In States With Legal Cannabis


When it comes to full North American legalization of cannabis there are really just a few opponents left. While Jeff Sessions continues to cling to ‘the gateway drug’ defense, many others cite worry over driving under the influence. Police aren’t sure exactly how to gauge whether or not someone is too high to drive, but research from the states shows that this shouldn’t be the most prevalent worry for officers.

We are all well aware that driving under the influence of alcohol can drastically impair our ability to drive a car safely, and unfortunately for cannabis, the same stigma has been applied there. The research is still being completed, but what we do have are statistics that show that the number of deaths caused by a traffic accident actually fell in states with legal cannabis.




Reuter reported last year that legal cannabis is not linked to traffic fatalities, that these states actually saw a decrease in fatalities post-legalization. Researchers analyzed 1.2 million traffic fatalities between 1985 and 2014 and found that deaths dropped 11% in states with legal medical cannabis laws. This mirrors a report from the previous year which also found a decline in traffic fatalities in states with safe access to cannabis.




“Instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, we saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected,” said Julian Santaella-Tenorio, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Despite the general lack of public knowledge regarding the possible dangers cannabis and driving there are quite a few studies on top of this one attempting to uncover the truth. NORML, a group that works to reform cannabis laws, has an extensive list of the findings of these studies on their website. This coupled with the findings from above should give ease to those who aren’t sure about how legal cannabis will affect the roads.

At the very least, the results from all of these studies are evidence that stoned drivers are not as dangerous as drunk drivers. Getting high on cannabis is neither severe or long-lasting enough to have a prominent effect on our driving.

November 8, 2017

by Cara Wietstock

Profile photo of Cara Wietstock
Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she put down her budtender hat and dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the cannabis plant fuel the passion in her posts.


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