In 19 states that had medical marijuana laws by 2014, traffic deaths fell by 11 percent, according to a new report.
Silvia Martins, a physician and associate professor at Columbia University who was the study’s senior author, told The Washington Post that the reduction could be because there are fewer drunk drivers because people are smoking marijuana instead of drinking alcohol.
“We found evidence that states with the marijuana laws in place compared with those which did not ... on average, lower rates of drivers endorsing driving after having too many drinks,” Martins said in a written statement.
“To back that up, the authors note that the lives spared tended to belong to younger people, particularly 25- to 44-year-olds -- an age group frequently involved in alcohol-related traffic deaths,” Ars Technica reported.
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Martins added that other factors could include “strength of public health laws related to driving, infrastructure characteristics, or the quality of health care systems.”
“On average, MML states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states,” the report's abstract stated, according to the American Journal of Public Health. “Medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.”
However, there were only seven states that had experienced a reduction in road deaths after enacting medical marijuana laws.
Those seven states were California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. Rhode Island and Connecticut saw an icrease, according to Ars Technica.