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Colorado has less traffic accidents since legalizing marijuana

Colorado traffic accidents lower since legalizing pot
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Today, Radley Balko, a writer for The Washington Post, published research on drivers who smoke pot and vehicle fatalities. It appears that anti-marijuana advocates need to take a chill-pill from their theories that local roads, freeways, and highways would see higher traffic accidents if states legalized marijuana.

Although anti-marijuana groups believe legalizing recreational pot would increase motor vehicle accidents, as “drugged drivers,” Balko's facts show just the opposite. Colorado has reported less accidents since legalizing marijuana. The anti-marijuana groups also referred to statistics that wasn't really clear -- while drivers in accidents are tested for the presence of THC, and states have recorded an increase in drivers testing positive for pot; the tests don’t indicate whether or not the drivers were still experiencing impaired cognitive functions. In fact, according to a published article in The National Institute of Health, doctors state, that function impairments “differ,” because of the multiple situations to consider, like: quantity smoked, how long ago the person smoked, and a person's metabolism. Balko points out these facts, and said the supposed “drugged driver” isn’t fairly tested and the idea of increased fatalities on Colorado highways isn’t really happening but just the opposite, Colorado accidents are lower.

Balko determined in a month-to-month comparison since Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana use, traffic fatalities in 2013, and 2014 are below averages since 2002.

It appears the theory that states who legalize marijuana will see higher traffic accidents is not likely. Also the idea that driving and testing positive for marijuana is not a contributing factor to vehicle accidents, as compared to those “drug-free free drivers,” according to scientific reports. Nevertheless, one critical point that Colorado Legislature passed was a bill that sets the legal THC limits for drivers to have "5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood" which indicate a possibility of impaired cognitive function and could face a DUI, according to The Denver Post. A test that simply indicates if a driver has THC lingering from days, weeks, or months past, is not an effective way to test a driver in the accident to know if being stoned was the contributing factor. Those concerned about driving high, or that legalizing marijuana will cause more driving accidents in Colorado is simply not supported just by testing for THC.

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