There are a lot of conflicting reports on the impact of Marijuana legalization and traffic accidents. For example many point to an increased rate in those involved in traffic accidents testing positive for marijuana rising dramatically in Washington State and states that legalized medical marijuana. While there might be something there, many have pointed out that those tests don’t test inebriation, they simply test for metabolites, and it would be perfectly reasonable to find more of those in a state that recently legalized marijuana in some form.
In fact, those increased rates could probably be found in any section of society, so to use them as an argument against legalization doesn’t quite seem fair. Especially considering in states like colorado, traffic deaths have declined considerably since marijuana was legalized in 2012. Marijuana related traffic accidents may be on the rise, but if that’s the case it isn’t significant enough to stop the traffic fatality rate as a whole from falling as well.
On top of that, Colorado has had the most aggressive marijuana legalization roll out to date, so if there isn’t a clear correlation there, it doesn’t seem likely that one will arise in other states who have taken more time to set up the infrastructure to distribute legal marijuana. And as it stands now, Colorado is the undisputed leader in rolling out legalized marijuana.
The fact is there is an incredible amount of sensationalism surrounding “drugged driving” in states with legalized marijuana. That’s not to say it might not be an issue, but the jury is still out. There simply is not enough data to declaratively say legalization leads to increased traffic accidents. What data is available, other than the increased occurrence of THC across all traffic accidents, tends to point to no significant increase in traffic accidents or fatalities.
There are a lot of legitimate concerns to be had with marijuana legalization and drugged driving might be one of them. But it is incredibly important to emphasize the “might.” No matter how intuitive it might seem, especially to opponents of legalization, until the facts show it beyond a shadow of a doubt, it’s important to remain open minded and look for the facts.