Talk of the effects of medical marijuana seems like a never-ending debate. A growing number of individuals are now becoming open-minded about the idea of using cannabis for medical purposes. But there are others who still see the substance as a gateway drug that can lead to addiction and the use of other more dangerous drugs. However, a recent study reveals a surprising effect of the legalization of marijuana on the number of traffic-related deaths.
The Declining Number Of Traffic Fatalities
A recent study reports that traffic death rates have dropped significantly in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. By studying statistical data from 1985 to 2014, researchers have found an immediate reduction of traffic fatalities among individuals who were 15 to 24 years old and those who were 25 to 44 years old.
On average, states that legalized the use of medical marijuana experienced a decrease of 11 percent, even reaching 12 percent among 25- to 44-year-olds.
This supports another research conducted in 2011, which found an average of 7.9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities among states that legalized cannabis for medical reasons. The legalization of medical marijuana also led to a finding of an almost 12 percent decrease of traffic fatalities for every 100,000 licensed drivers.
However, it is important to note that, in some states, the immediate decrease in fatalities was followed by a gradual increase. Such is the case for California and New Mexico. Rhode Island and Connecticut showed just the opposite results, recording an increase in fatalities instead.
The Marijuana-Alcohol Connection
Results of the 2011 study included the involvement of alcohol consumption and its relation to the marijuana legalization and found proof that the use of marijuana lessened alcohol consumption. This is consistent with the study's hypothesis that alcohol and marijuana are, indeed, substitutes of each other.
The legalization of marijuana also lessened monthly alcohol consumption by 9 percent in males and 12 percent in females.
This finding supports both studies in their idea that, while intoxicated individuals tend to be more excitable and reckless, marijuana users tend to be a bit more careful and aware of their condition. It is also possible that the additional police presence following the legalization may also have contributed to this result.
However, this is just a hypothesis. Neither study makes a conclusion about the causality association between traffic fatalities and marijuana legalization. Rather, both studies simply point out the statistical figures resulting from the legalization.
Despite these findings, it is important to note that both marijuana and alcohol can impair the necessary skills needed for responsible driving, and that great care must be taken on the road to avoid unnecessary and possibly fatal accidents.
By Athena Chan - Tech Times/Dec. 30, 2016
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn, reuters