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December 2, 2011

"Report shows fewer traffic fatalities after states pass medical-pot laws"

The title of this post is the headline of this recent press report, which gets started this way:

The passage of state medical-marijuana laws is associated with a subsequent drop in the rate of traffic fatalities, according to a newly released study by two university professors.

The study — by University of Colorado Denver professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University professor D. Mark Anderson — found that the traffic-death rate drops by nearly 9 percent in states after they legalize marijuana for medical use.  The researchers arrived at that figure, Rees said, after controlling for other variables such as changes in traffic laws, seat-belt usage and miles driven.  The study stops short of saying the medical-marijuana laws cause the drop in traffic deaths.  "We were pretty surprised that they went down," Rees said Tuesday.

The study was posted this month on the website of the Bonn, Germany- based Institute for the Study of Labor and has not yet been peer-reviewed.   Rees said the main reason for the drop appears to be that medical-marijuana laws mean young people spend less time drinking and more time smoking cannabis. Legalization of medical marijuana, the researchers report, is associated with a 12-percent drop in the alcohol-related fatal-crash rate and a 19-percent decrease in the fatality rate of people in their 20s, according to the study.

The study also found that medical- marijuana legalization is associated with a drop in beer sales. "The result that comes through again and again and again is (that) young adults . . . drink less when marijuana is legalized and traffic fatalities go down," Rees said.

December 2, 2011 at 05:53 PM | Permalink


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Not peer reviewed and released on an obscure website in Bonn, Germany. And this masquerades as scholarship?

Posted by: mjs | Dec 2, 2011 6:54:12 PM

Whst is the masquerade? The press report admits that it has not yet been peer reviewed.
Have you ever engaged in trying to get published? A daunting task to say the least. Even more so if the subject matter or results are controversial.
With all due respect to Doug, this website is not peer-reviewed scholarship yet it has been cited as such.
Before rejecting the premise maybe we need to wait and see if the findings are validated. Darwin was attacked and is still attacked despite the fact that evolution has been validated.

Posted by: ? | Dec 2, 2011 9:41:25 PM

"Before rejecting the premise maybe we need to wait and see if the findings are validated."

Before accepting the premise maybe we need to wait and see if the findings are validated.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 2, 2011 11:30:46 PM

All the study claims to show is that states that legalized medical marijuana have also seen drops in traffic fatalities. Even the authors of the study recognize that correlation does not equal causation, and the graphs I have seen somewhere showed traffic fatalities falling before medical marijuana was legalized; the trend simply continued after legalization. So it's silly to assume that allowing medicinal marijuana will result in fewer deaths in traffic accidents. What the study does do, however, is provide evidence to refute claims that greater access to legal marijuana will result in a higher incidence of traffic deaths.

And even if traffic fatalities went up after legalizing medical marijuana, it should still be legalized.

Posted by: C.E. | Dec 3, 2011 4:08:42 AM

I agree with the Report stating less traffic fatalities after states pass medical-pot laws

Posted by: Career Guidance | Dec 3, 2011 6:19:39 AM

Bill, What's the big deal? Suppose the study is right, why does it hurt people? Suppose it is wrong, why does it hurt people?

And, seriously, this is a fairly easy study to do. The number of traffic fatalities is easy to look up, as is the status of med. marijuana laws? Do you see any problem with their methodology?

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 3, 2011 1:52:50 PM


The difference you point out is inductive versus deductive reasoning. Both require validation. Both are logiial reasoning methods. Got it? If not, I promise to be deductive next time to deal with you pedestrians.

Posted by: ? | Dec 3, 2011 9:22:59 PM

These are empirical findings. All laws should be subjected to follow up data. Such studies may be criticized to improve methodology, but should be highly encouraged, and well funded by the DOJ.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 4, 2011 3:09:58 PM

Bill Otis: "Before accepting the premise maybe we need to wait and see if the findings are validated."

I am willing to bet you think that fatalities would increase, Bill Otis. Smoking ganja is does not impair the ability to drive. Unlike the commercial where three teens are seen sitting at a drive-thru, and the driver hits the gas instead of the break, running down a 5ish-year-old girl riding her bike [with training wheels] down a sidewalk on a busy street.... alone.

Get a clue, Sue!

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Posted by: Maryland Speeding Ticket Lawyer | Mar 7, 2012 12:02:49 AM

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