States with Medical Cannabis Report Fewer Traffic Fatalities

Published on December 26, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Police car on the street at night

According to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health, states that have implemented medicinal cannabis law have reported lower numbers of traffic fatalities than states that do not have such laws.

Julian Santaella-Tenorio, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, spearheaded the study which analyzed the association of medical marijuana laws with traffic fatality rates.

Santaella-Tenorio used data from the 1985-2014 Fatality Analysis Reporting System to examine the association between medicinal marijuana laws and traffic fatalities in multilevel regression models, while controlling for contemporaneous (occurring in the same period of time) secular trends. The researchers also evaluated the association between cannabis dispensaries and traffic fatalities.

The result? On average, states with legal medicinal marijuana had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MMJ states. The biggest reductions were seen in traffic fatalities among those aged 15 to 44 years old.

Dispensaries were also associated with traffic fatality reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years old, which provides evidence to debunk the theory that the more dispensaries you have in a city, the more “stoned” drivers you will have out on the roads.

Here is the full text of the study.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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