Policy & Law Science

New Study: Cannabis Legalization Does Not Increase Traffic Accidents

A recent BuzzFeed poll asked Americans, “Which is a stronger argument against legalization?”

47-percent of respondents said “more people are driving under the influence”

—Buzzfeed

But what does the research show?

Does cannabis legalization actually cause more traffic accidents?

The following study shows that this isn’t true. Kansas State University graduate student Andrew Young took a closer look at traffic fatalities over a span of 23 years. Young compared traffic fatality rates in states where cannabis legal and states where it is still heavily controlled. No concrete trends emerged.

The results of the analysis suggest that there is no statistically [significant] relationship between marijuana legalization and fatal crashes.

—Andrew Young

“The results of the analysis suggest that there is no statistically [significant] relationship between marijuana legalization and fatal crashes.” Young wrote. “These findings suggest that concerns of policymakers and the public that legalizing marijuana will worsen road safety are not entirely founded.”

The study is limited by the fact that recreational cannabis is legal in only a few states and it has only been that way for several years, so the sample size is too small to make any really concrete conclusions. But Young’s findings reflect the same conclusions of several previous studies, all of which have failed to identify a statistically meaningful link between legalization and road safety.

Want to learn more about cannabis on the road?

Check out our article on traveling with cannabis.