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Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

23 June 2017

However, Moore believes this provides clear answers that crash risks have increased in these three states where marijuana is legal, but understands that more research needs to be done.

Colorado saw the biggest estimated increase in collision claims after retail marijuana sales began in Colorado.

The HDLI's study said that although there is evidence from simulator and on-road studies that marijuana can cause a deterioration in driving performance, researches haven't been able to definitively connect pot use with an increase in vehicle crashes.

According to the HLDI, past researchers haven't been able to "definitively connect marijuana use with real-world crashes", and even a federal study failed to find such a link.

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Critics caution against reading into these statistics, however, because marijuana stays in a person's system for weeks after use.

The study also looked at loss results in the three states compared to adjacent ones without legalized recreational marijuana use before November.

Twenty-one states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs. Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use also have been inconclusive.

Findings from the crash fatality study "ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who possessed concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety", said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.

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HLDI has begun a large-scale study in OR to assess how legalized marijuana use could change the risk of crashes with injuries. Washington's increase in claim frequency outpaced nearby Montana and Idaho by 6.2 percent, while Oregon's increase exceeded nearby Idaho, Montana and Nevada by 4.5 percent, IIHS says. Allowing for the total control group, "the combined effect for the three states was a smaller, but still significant at 3 percent", said HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.

The HLDI is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research organization that usually focuses on figuring out which cars are safest. Results from the study are expected in 2020.

A recent insurance study links increased auto crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

The numbers vary by state, but in Washington, there's been a six percent increase compared to other western states.

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