NEWS Will legalizing marijuana lead to more car accidents?

Will legalizing marijuana lead to more car accidents?

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Insurance actuaries did not find any significant effect of decriminalization on the frequency of fatal car crashes or insurance claims.

Marijuana intoxication and driving is one of the biggest problems facing the legalization of marijuana. There’s no accurate way to quantify the moments when people are too tall to drive, and there’s no accurate way to get that data.

Trying to find some answers, a study in Canada asked insurance actuaries to figure out whether cannabis reform would lead to more accidents.

high while driving
Photo by Jason Doiy/Getty Images

The report was jointly authored by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). They concluded that the legalization of marijuana was not responsible for more traffic accidents.

RELATED: Drivers less likely to be stoned in states where marijuana is legal

The study provides an overview of available data on cannabis and driving. While the data shows that marijuana use does have an effect on how people drive, the effect isn’t always a bad thing, pointing to early data from 2016 and 2022 suggesting that people who smoke marijuana know themselves better and tend to drive more slowly . The more experienced the marijuana users, the less likely those individuals were to be involved in an accident, showing how different the problem is compared to drunk driving.

Still, the evidence is conflicting. Data dating back from 1993 to 2003 showed that drivers aged 20 to 50 who tested positive for marijuana were 5 percent more likely to be speeding and fail to see road signs. Of course, these studies have their own caveats, all of which limit their scope to one statistic or focus on just one area.

The Canadian study has more modern data from the United States and Canada compiled from 2016 to 2019, when people had a different, more positive relationship with cannabis.

high while driving
Photo by Cappy Thompson/Getty Images

Related: Will Marijuana Legalization Increase Impaired Driving Rates?New study has answers

“The methods used in this study include improved statistical models, machine learning and other data science techniques. These models use high-resolution weather data to account for the effects of weather factors,” said the report’s authors.

As always, more research is needed to gain a more accurate understanding of marijuana and its effects on driving. Still, it’s a complex topic, and it’s not as straightforward as it’s often portrayed.

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