Study: Legalized marijuana leads to increase in crashes

Arlington, Virginia – As more drivers admit to using marijuana, the drug is more frequently associated with vehicle crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute shows collision claim frequencies are up around 3 percent on average in states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana–Oregon, Colorado and Washington.

According to a separate individual analysis, Oregon has the lowest increase in claims compared to neighboring states. That increase comes in at around 4%.

“Worry that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates isn’t misplaced,” says David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “HLDI’s findings on the early experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause.”

HLDI has begun a large-scale study in Oregon to assess how legalized marijuana use could change the risk of crashes with injuries. Results from the study are expected in 2020.

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