States that legalized the medical use of marijuana have had a drop in deadly automobile crashes, suggesting that some people who would otherwise drive drunk and kill someone are smoking weed instead, according to research by three economists. The Hartford Courant says it is not clear if the would-be drunken drivers are high behind the wheel with less deadly results, or if they’re simply not driving.
The research by professors at the University of Colorado-Denver, Montana State University and the University of Oregon looked at traffic deaths from 1990 to 2009 in all 50 states, including the 16 that passed medical marijuana laws. “Legalization is associated with nearly a 9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely as a result of its impact on alcohol consumption by young adults,” the researchers said. Advocates of a medical-marijuana law could tout the study’s findings as a societal benefit of legalization. Opponents, however, could say that the study shows what they’ve argued all along — that a medical-marijuana law makes marijuana more available for recreational use.