Medical Marijuana Makes for Sober, Safer Drivers, Study Says

littering and a 2.jpg
Thanks for driving safely
While medical marijuana advocates will politely ask them to stop talking whenever the subject arises, there are many cannabis users who will claim that the task of operating a motor vehicle is safer when the driver is a bit stoned.

Turns out that researchers crunching traffic data from 13 states -- including car- and cannabis-crazy California -- arrived at a similar conclusion, only with an extra hitch: Drivers in states with medical marijuana laws are not only safer, they're more sober.

A 9 percent drop in traffic fatalities and a 5 percent drop in beer sales were observed in states where cannabis is legal, according to a study conducted by economics professors at the University of Colorado-Denver and Montana State University.

Something to consider: Traffic deaths are the leading cause of death among Americans ages five to 34, and as MADD reminds us, drinking-and-driving-related fatalities affect even the sober. So medical marijuana makes the roads safer for everyone.

The study is believed to be the first examination of the relationship between traffic deaths and legalized marijuana, according to study's authors, Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, and D. Mark Anderson, professor of economics at Montana State University. That in itself shocked the study's authors.

"We were astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing medical marijuana," Rees said. "Although we make no policy recommendations, it certainly appears as though medical marijuana laws are making our highways safer."

The study by no means condones the one-hand-blunt-rolling method performed while changing lanes. Rather, it observes that such behavior is unlikely: Drivers who use alcohol are more likely to take risks, while drivers using marijuana avoid risks.

In fact, they might avoid driving altogether. Most medical marijuana is consumed at home, while alcohol is consumed at bars and restaurants, according to the study.

There's also a correlation between beer sales and medical marijuana laws: 20-to-29-year-olds buy less beer when they live in states with legal cannabis, according to figures provided by the Beer Institute. That makes the alcohol industry's opposition to Proposition 19 last year a little less mysterious. Less alcohol on the roads means less danger on the roads, hence the 9 percent drop in fatalities.

The study also looks at the oft-repeated claims of marijuana prohibition supporters that legal pot causes an increase in criminal activity (which was always dubious) and that medical marijuana leads to increased use among minors. The authors concluded that "no evidence to support [either] hypothesis" could be found.

So find the car with the Bob Marley sticker and follow it home. Just be careful when you drive past the bar.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

My Voice Nation Help
25 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
anon
anon

Correlation does not equal causation.

Muzzylu
Muzzylu

If marijuana was legal in the US, you would have death from prescription pills, alcohol and tobacco go way down!Medical marijuana, and all marijuana should be legal! It is helpful to people for pain reduction and other maladies, plus marijuana can be a much less harmful recreational drug than liquor, heroin, crack, and cocaine.Great book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Chocolates to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis. This book has great recipe for marijuana oil and tasty, yummy chocolates!

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for theuser as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects,and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds onreforming pot laws.  I drew up a verycool poster featuring Uncle Willie Nelson and The Teapot Party for the causewhich you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...  Drop in and let me know what you think!

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

Google MARIJUANA DRIVING STUDY. You'll see two common findings:

1. Drivers under the influence of marijuana are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired.

2. Unlike those under the influence of alcohol, marijuana consumers are aware they are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired and they CONSISTENTLY ADEQUATELY COMPENSATE by slowing down a little and being a little more cautious. That doesn’t mean they get in the fast lane on the interstate and drive 15 miles per hour. Marijuana makes you cautious, not crazy! Those Cheech and Chong movies were comedies, NOT documentaries!

* Fact: The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine document states that MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING:

* Fact: When combined 2002 to 2005 data are compared with combined 2006 to 2009 data, the Nation as a whole experienced a statistically significant reduction in the rate of past year drugged driving (from 4.8 to 4.3 percent), as did seven States: Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  Four of these seven States have legalized medicinal marijuana, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan and California.  

* Fact: California led the US to a nationwide, statistically significant reduction in the incidence of "drugged" driving during a time period when the number of patients claiming the protection of the California Compassionate Use Act and SB-420 increased by a factor of 10.

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

Google MARIJUANA DRIVING STUDY. You'll see two common findings:

1. Drivers under the influence of marijuana are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired.

2. Unlike those under the influence of alcohol, marijuana consumers are aware they are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired and they CONSISTENTLY ADEQUATELY COMPENSATE by slowing down a little and being a little more cautious. That doesn’t mean they get in the fast lane on the interstate and drive 15 miles per hour. Marijuana makes you cautious, not crazy! Those Cheech and Chong movies were comedies, NOT documentaries!

* Fact: The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine document states that MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING:

* Fact: When combined 2002 to 2005 data are compared with combined 2006 to 2009 data, the Nation as a whole experienced a statistically significant reduction in the rate of past year drugged driving (from 4.8 to 4.3 percent), as did seven States: Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  Four of these seven States have legalized medicinal marijuana, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan and California.  

http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205...

* Fact: California led the US to a nationwide, statistically significant reduction in the incidence of "drugged" driving during a time period when the number of patients claiming the protection of the California Compassionate Use Act and SB-420 increased by a factor of 10. 

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chro...

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Well then ... time for Mandatory Marijuana Brownies for ALL Drivers !

... and Airline Pilots.

billybo
billybo

Only those with marijuana blinders cannot see the bias in this study.  Let me show you how this works:1-Most states have legalized marijuana between 2008 and 2011.  The number of registered medical marijuana patients has risen exponentially in these past three years.2-Since 2008 the stock market has substantially underproduced compared to previous years.DATA+ DATA+ DATA+ DATA =legalizing marijuana has crashed the stock marketIt doesn't matter what "research" says if the there is no relationship to the variablesI can't find a picture of the lead researcher in this study but I guarantee you he has a hemp necklace on.  Thanks again, Chris for making the world dumber.

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

billybo, you're a Prohibitionist which means you owe the rest of us answers to the following questions:

#1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

#2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

#3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this ruinously expensive garbage policy?

#4. Why are you waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

#5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once 'free & proud' nation now has the largest percentage of it's citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?

#6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?

#7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?

#8. Why are you such a supporter of the 'prison industrial complex' to the extent of endangering our own children?

#9. Will you graciously applaud, when due to your own incipient and authoritarian approach, even your own child is caged and raped?

* It is estimated that there are over 300,000 instances of prison rape a year.* 196,000 are estimated to happen to men in prison.* 123,000 are estimated to happen to men in county jail.* 40,000 are estimated to be committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilities or lock ups.* 5000 women are estimated to be raped in prison.

BillyBo
BillyBo

I'm not anti-marijuana.  I'm anti-idiocy and anti-misuse of statistics and anti-people who abuse the scientific method . I'm actually fully in support of marijuana legalization and taxation for recreational purposes.  I am, however, anti-"medical" marijuana because there is no such thing.  There is Marinol, there are other cannabanoids being developed.  Smoking weed is not medicine.  Getting High does not make you a better driver.  Bulleting a bunch of Berkeley Fliers in a row does not make you any less of a dullard, Malcolm.  If you spent half as much time trying to get a job as you did defending your pot habit in this reply, you might understand where I'm coming from.

sfc415
sfc415

Guess you've never known anyone with AIDS, cancer, or chronic pain. Lucky for you. May it remain that way.

Mescalito eater
Mescalito eater

I drive my car while tripping on  fresh picked Peyote from Arizona and I do fine.

GIJOEY
GIJOEY

Honestly all the paranoia and stoner crazed stereotypes that you ALL put out are just showing how ignorant and uneducated on the topic you really are. This is not only a good sign to help people but in helping these people we see it helps others as well. Correlation does NOT equal causation I agree but you can not sit and try to argue that just because it does not equal causation doesn't mean you can ignore the numbers and the statistics. There are many more stories and statistics and HISTORICAL EVIDENCE proving the use of cannabis as more than just medical and that my friends is the biggest reason it was shut down because of politics. Do the research and educate yourselves then come back and try and say that all the users are stoners and pot heads both are nomenclature that I for one despise. I use it and I am a highly intelligent and responsible adult as are most who utilize medical cannabis. SO again grow up and educate yourselves please.

HELLS ANGELS FRISCO
HELLS ANGELS FRISCO

 go fuck yourself punk!

Cullen_anita
Cullen_anita

The hells angels should frisk your ass hells angels frisco . Go fuck yourself ! GiJoey is spot on . And the HELLS ANGELS know that ;-) awesome comment GIJOEY .

ridge
ridge

the hyperlink to the study just goes to a CHEECH AND CHONG clip on youtube. When are people (journalists, especially) going to forget about these two shitbrains and their brand of backhanded derision towards recreational cannabis smokers? Oh, wait, the answer to that is NEVER, they have huge appeal to anyone who hates "stoners" (whether they know they do or not)

Chris Roberts
Chris Roberts

That was a bad mistake on our part; fixed. Thanks for letting us know.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

It's almost like paranoia leads to safer driving...

BIG DICK
BIG DICK

 Dear ERIC you sound sexy. hook up with me baby. how can I make sexual contact with you?

HELLS ANGELS FRISCO
HELLS ANGELS FRISCO

 you can suffer from being to straight I learned years ago in the 1970s.

Wichita
Wichita

we need it legalized in wilkes county north carolina

Hawaii tent guy
Hawaii tent guy

 you need to move out of the hick backwards south boy. move west. the west is the best. it will never be legal in the Southern Dixie states they are to close minded down yonder. I grew up there. they still thinks it the 1950s back yonder and they are still fighting the civil war. THE WEST IS THE BEST,GET HERE AND WE WILL DO THE REST. I live in Hawaii where pot is legal.

Ruth
Ruth

Correlation does NOT equal causation......

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

It's not even correlation ... more like coincidence ... mixed with some wishful thinking ...

rsteeb
rsteeb

Google THC+SDLP and read the serious research on the subject. 

Preponderance of scientific evidence usually persuades the intelligent...

BillyBo???

Nedra D
Nedra D

more relaxed, less likely to get irritated in traffic thus less road rage... marijuana is only illegal because there are people making a boatload of money that they will lose if it becomes legal.  Imagine the savings with the DEA, prisons, local police forces alone.  

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...