A June 2017 automobile insurance study has linked increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana. Collision claims in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have increased 2.7 percent in the years since legal recreational marijuana sales began in 2014 and 2015.
"We believe that the data is saying that crash risk has increased in these states and those crash risks are associated with the legalization of marijuana," said Matt Moore, Senior Vice President with The Highway Loss Data Institute.
Researchers accounted for many factors in the study. They looked at the number of automobiles on the road in the study area, as well as control states. They also looked at age and gender of drivers, weather, and even whether the driver making the claim was employed.
The study was prompted by an increase in auto accidents across the country in 2013, after more than a decade of steady decline. Insurance companies found several possible factors along with marijuana legalization. Those factors included distracted driving through texting or cell phone use, road construction, and more miles being driven for leisurely drives.
"It would appear, probably not to anyone's surprise, that the use of marijuana contributes to crashes," said Kenton Brine, President of the Northwest Insurance Council. He added, "It would be difficult to say that marijuana is a definitive factor, lacking a citation, in a significant number of crashes to say that what we're seeing is a trend."
Source: Associated Press-Denver