In states that have legalized recreational cannabis use, the number of people injured in car accidents has increased by nearly six percent – a number of negative reports sounding the alarm over the dangers of criminalization, according to a recent study.
Research this week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed a 5.8 percent increase in traffic accidents in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada after those states legalized cannabis and ‘pot shops’.
It was the latest in a series of studies on everything from teenage addiction to trauma and unhealthy relationships to cast doubt on Democratic efforts this week to end federal prohibition on cannabis.
“Marijuana legalization doesn’t come without a cost,” said Charles Farmer, lead researcher on the Car Crash Survey, which compared traffic data from 2009 to 2019 on legalization and restrictions on the drug.
Legalization “removes the stigma of marijuana use” and makes it more readily available, leading to more intoxicated and less attentive drivers with slower reaction times and a tendency to veer out of their lanes, he said.
Overall, the five named states saw a 4.1 percent increase in fatal crashes. The increase was not universal. The hardest hit state, Colorado, saw a 17.8 percent increase in crash injuries. In California, incidents increased by 5.7 percent.
Cannabis is slowly gaining legalization in the US, with some form of use permitted in six US states.
‘States that legalize the recreational use of cannabis need to make it clear through education and strict enforcement that not all uses are legal,’ Farmer told DailyMail.com.
Experts take aim at the dangers of cannabis legalization
Car accident injury rates increased by 5.8% after legalization in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California
Colorado alone saw a 17.8 percent jump in the number of crash injuries
Cannabis use ‘significantly’ increases after legalization and people aren’t aware of health risks, New York study says
Children as young as nine years old are eager to use cannabis – often because of cues from parents and friends
Adolescents are three times more likely than adults to become addicted to cannabis
Cannabis users are 22 percent more likely to end up in a hospital emergency room than others
Users ‘misperceive’ how well their romantic relationships are going, and become more critical, demanding, defensive and negative when rowing with loved ones.
The United Nations says the legalization of cannabis has ‘accelerated’ its use and increased the risk of depression and suicide.
Another study this week by the City University of New York and Columbia University — in a state that legalized recreational marijuana last year but has not allowed dispensaries to sell it — found that cannabis use increases rapidly after legalization.
Professor Renee Goodwin, lead author of the study, said cannabis use was ‘highly prevalent’ in states where recreational use is legal and there would be a ‘potential explosion’ of users if it were to be treated normally.
He warned against bills by states ‘passing legislation too quickly’ without letting people know how to safely use cannabis and its ‘potential health risks’ – whether smoked in joints, vaped or consumed as edible gummies.
A University of Michigan study this month found that children as young as nine are at increased risk of becoming interested in using marijuana. Many were influenced by ‘parental messages’ that did not enforce rules on drug use, the researchers said.
Also this month, researchers from University College London and King’s College London found that teenagers were three times more likely to become addicted to cannabis, making them more likely to experience depression or anxiety.
Another study from Canada, where cannabis use has increased since it was decriminalized in 2018, showed that users of the drug were 22 percent more likely to end up in a hospital emergency room than others – often due to serious injuries or breathing problems.
Lead author Dr Nicholas Vozouris of the University of Toronto said responsible authorities should ‘discourage recreational use’ and ‘remind citizens of the harmful health effects of cannabis’, he said last month.
Last month the UN’s annual World Drug Report warned against the legalization of cannabis, saying it led to ‘rapid’ use and an increased risk of depression and suicide. The world body also said the growing multibillion-dollar cannabis industry is producing more potent products.
A rare study from Rutgers University last month found that cannabis users ‘misperceive’ how well their romantic relationships are going, and tend to be more critical, demanding, defensive and negative when rowing with loved ones.
Even the often touted benefits of cannabis are called into question. Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University reported last month that there was ‘very little scientifically valid’ evidence that cannabis-related products alleviate chronic pain in sufferers.
The bag of research can be seen as a wake-up call to a nation that is increasingly tolerant and supportive of cannabis use — even walking a few blocks in New York or San Francisco these days often fills the nose with pungent marijuana smoke.
About half of US citizens now live in states where they can buy recreational cannabis, and all but 13 states have legalized medical use. President Joe Biden said this month that marijuana users should not go to jail.
Pro-legalization campaigners have slowly won the decades-long debate, with 58 percent of Americans now supporting legalization, compared to 28 percent opposed, according to this month’s YouGov poll.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and said moves to legalize the drug in some states have ‘proved to be overwhelmingly successful’.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, allow states to make their own laws, and impose government monitoring regulations similar to those for tobacco and alcohol. It is not certain that the bill will be passed.
Scott Chipman of the campaign group, Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana, warned against the push for legalization and its ‘very negative and dangerous’ effects on millions of Americans.
His group points to a myriad of social problems, from violent crime to mental illness, youth addicts, marijuana firms producing super-strength drugs and targeting children, and more drunk drivers on the road.
“It’s specifically about how a marijuana user affects the lives of those around them,” Chipman told DailyMail.com.
‘Ask yourself, at what level of consumption would you feel safe being a passenger in a car with a driver who uses psychotropic drugs?’
This instance of reckless driving in Draper, Utah in June 2019 was linked to a motorist using Xanax and marijuana. States like Colorado that have legalized the use of marijuana have seen high rates of roadway injuries and deaths.
A woman under the influence of marijuana was later convicted of aggravated vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March 2016 after she crashed head-on in San Diego, California, killing a passenger in another car.
Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill on Thursday that would federally decriminalize marijuana and allow states to establish their own regulations on the cannabis industry. Researcher Charles Farmer (right) says recreational cannabis is legal in states where car accidents cause injuries and deaths.
Leo Paquette, owner of Fire on Four, a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Maine. These types of retailers are setting up shop across the U.S. as regulations against cannabis ease