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Friday, December 2, 2011

Medical Marijuana Lowers Traffic Deaths

Drunk driving and drugged driving have proven time and time again to be extremely hazardous, with thousands of accidents, sometimes fatal, every year. Whenever someone uses a mind altering substance it inhibits one’s ability to focus the same way they would sober which is why just about every state in the country has strict laws to deter such behavior. It turns out that medical marijuana may actually decrease the number of traffic deaths each year.

A new study has found that medical marijuana laws may be linked to a reduction in traffic deaths. Researchers believe that some people in “medical marijuana allowing states” use marijuana instead of alcohol. Pointing out that alcohol is more deadly than marijuana when combined with driving, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was reviewed before and after the legalization of medical marijuana laws in 16 states, the current number of states that allow medical marijuana programs. They found a nearly 9 percent decrease in overall traffic deaths.

In most states with medical marijuana laws, the researchers saw an increase in marijuana consumption in addition to prescription uses among people over 18, but not among minors. Those states also experienced a small drop in alcohol consumption. Seemingly, people are substituting marijuana for alcohol, which at the end of the day may be a good thing considering how caustic alcohol has proven to be to the human body.

Marijuana is typically consumed within the confines of one’s own home, whereas alcohol is usually drank in public settings where the potential for driving is that much greater. Researchers claim that when people are drunk they are less likely to think that they are too intoxicated to do a particular activity, which is contrary to marijuana users who can usually gauge better how high they actually are.

The researchers’ findings appear in a working paper for the Institute for the Study of Labor.

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