Sorry naysayers, neither Drs. Cheech nor Chong were the authors of a recent study that shows traffic deaths are markedly lower in states that allow the use of medicinal marijuana.
Researchers from the University of Colorado and Montana State University examined traffic fatality numbers in Montana, Rhode Island and Vermont, three states where medical pot is legal. They found that traffic deaths fell by nine percent after the legalization of medical pot.
They also looked at alcohol use in the same states, which showed that booze sales — especially beer — dropped at the same time. Particularly in young adults aged 20-29, the passage of medical marijuana laws meant less drinking, less drunk driving, and less deaths.
Not only did overall deaths decrease, but the rate of decrease was larger at nights and on weekends, further suggesting more people are partying with weed, not booze.
Other studies have shown that motor skills and perception suffers after marijuana use, but neither simulator or driving-course studies provide consistent evidence of more risk of crashing. On the other hand, drunk drivers killed more than 10,000 Americans in 2009, accounting for more than one-third of all traffic deaths.
Next up is a study examining the sales of Doritos and Skittles in roadside convenience stores.