A new study released today by the University of Colorado Denver shows that the legalization of medical marijuana significantly reduces alcohol consumption and, as a result, traffic deaths. In particular, the researchers found that medical marijuana laws have resulted in a nearly five percent reduction in beer sales and a nine percent drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Click here to read Denver Westword's write-up on the study, which extensively quotes SAFER's Mason Tvert.
Hailed as "groundbreaking" in the University's press release, the study is the first to examine the effect of legalizing medical marijuana on the prevalence of traffic fatalities. Researchers analyzed traffic fatalities nationwide, and in those states that have legalized medical marijuana they found that alcohol consumption went down among those 20 to 29 years old, resulting in fewer deaths on the road. They noted past research that suggests drivers under the influence of alcohol are far more reckless than drivers under the influence of marijuana. Whereas those using alcohol drive faster, take more risks, and underestimate their level of impairment, those using marijuana drive slower, avoid risks, and recognize when they are too impaired to drive.
It should come as little surprise that when adults are allowed to make the safer choice to use marijuana it results in less drinking and fewer alcohol-related problems. So, if allowing the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes reduces alcohol consumption and traffic deaths, it stands to reason that making it legal for all adults could reduce it dramatically. We've said time and time again that our government is driving people to
drink; now it appears they are also driving people to drink and drive.
The study, "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol
Consumption," was coauthored by Daniel Rees, professor of economics at
the University of Colorado Denver, and D. Mark Anderson, assistant
professor of economics at Montana State University. It can be found at: