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Does Marijuana Legalization Lead to Fewer Traffic Fatalities?

Photo: aforero

That’s the claim of a new paper by D. Mark Anderson and Daniel I. Rees, put out by the IZA, titled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption”:

To date, 16 states have passed medical marijuana laws, yet very little is known about their effects. Using state-level data, we examine the relationship between medical marijuana laws and a variety of outcomes. Legalization of medical marijuana is associated with increased use of marijuana among adults, but not among minors. In addition, legalization is associated with a nearly 9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely to due to its impact on alcohol consumption. Our estimates provide strong evidence that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes.

 As Rees told the East Bay Express:

“If critics want to collect the data themselves, boy, the results will jump out at them the way they jumped out at us. … Our results are pretty robust. We’re pretty confident they’re going to hold up … Include us in that group who thought, ‘This is going to be crash central. … We were totally surprised when the results came out so strong in the other direction.”

Not surprisingly, the paper has already been highlighted on the NORML blog.

If you haven’t already dumped your BUD stock, is it time to do so now?

Finally, we’ve run two Freakonomics Quorums in the past on the topic of decriminalizing marijuana. Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here.