When states across the country began to adopt medical marijuana programs, and subsequent legalization of recreational “pot” use, there were a number of fears—naturally. Opponents of lightening the legislative stance on marijuana have voiced concerns about more young people thinking the drug was safe to use. Considering significant research says otherwise—especially when it comes to young people with developing brains. Other concerns that were brought up had to do with an increase in motorists driving intoxicated. Both of which are not without merit.
Now, over 20 years since California passed medical marijuana legislation and four years since the first states legalized recreational use, research can finally show if such fears were warranted. In fact, research has shown that teen marijuana use has remained practically unchanged as a result of medical marijuana and legalization. With regard to driving, a new study has found that traffic fatalities have actually declined in states with medical marijuana programs, according to a news release from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Through the use of data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 1985-2014, states with medical marijuana programs saw 11 percent reduction in traffic fatalities on average, after enacting the laws, according to the report. The researchers found an 11 percent reduction of among 15 to 24-year olds, a 12 percent decrease among the 25 to 44 age group, and 9 percent drop for people 45+.
“This finding suggests that the mechanisms by which medical marijuana laws reduce traffic fatalities mostly operate in those younger adults, a group also frequently involved in alcohol-related traffic fatalities,” said Julian Santaella-Tenorio, a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. She adds that: “The evidence linking medical marijuana laws and traffic fatalities lays the groundwork for future studies on specific mechanisms.”
It is important to understand that while the findings are a good sign, it doesn’t mean that marijuana is safe. The drug can have a negative impact on your life, and can be addictive. If you have been struggling with marijuana, please contact Hope by The Sea today.