Researchers Say New Study Links Legal Pot to Car Crashes

Study by insurance research group looked at Colorado, Washington, Oregon
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 22, 2017 7:26 PM CDT
In this April 16, 2015 file photo, smoke created by water vapor billows out of the windows of a car, used by Colorado to fight stoned driving with youth demographics, during a demonstration by the Colorado...   (David Zalubowski)

(Newser) – A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana, the AP reports. The Highway Loss Data Institute, a leading insurance research group, said in study results released Thursday that collision claims in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon went up 2.7% in the years since legal recreational marijuana sales began when compared with surrounding states. Legal recreational pot sales in Colorado began in January 2014, followed six months later in Washington, and in October 2015 in Oregon. Eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational marijuana for adults.

"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 institute, which analyzes insurance data to observe emerging auto-safety trends. Mason Tvert, a marijuana legalization advocate and communications director with the Marijuana Policy Project, questioned the study's comparison of claims in rural states such as Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana with Colorado, Oregon, and Washington that have dense population centers and how that affected the study's findings. "The study raises more questions than it provides answers, and it's an area that would surely receive more study, and deservedly so," Tvert said. (Read more marijuana stories.)

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