This study examines the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities, the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5 to 34. So why does legalizing medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities?
Data was collected from FARS, Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1990 through 2010 to examine the relationship between Medical Marijuana laws and traffic fatalities. This data was collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and represents an annual census of all fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Information was provided on each crash along with the persons and vehicles involved.
The information is gathered from police crash reports, driver licensing files, vehicle registration files, state highway department data, emergency medical services records, medical examiners’ reports, toxicology reports and death certificates. The study finds that the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with reduced alcohol consumption among young adults.
Alcohol consumption leads to an increased risk of collision. Even at low doses, drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to underestimate the degree to which they are impaired, drive faster and take more risks. Additionally, it is possible that legalizing medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities as most people smoke at home. Alcohol can be consumed in restaurants and bars while many states prohibit the use of medical marijuana in public.
The data of this article is collected by FARS and relies on how accurate authorities report it. The strengths of the article indicate that marijuana is safe and can be used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, AIDS, MS, epilepsy, glaucoma and other serious illnesses. “Clinical research also shows that marijuana relieves chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms and appetite loss” (Andersen, 2013).
Opponents of medical marijuana focus on the social issues surrounding substance use. They argue that marijuana is addictive, serves as a gateway drug, has little medicinal value and leads to criminal activity. This study should be conducted again as this article is from 2013. Additionally, attitudes about marijuana have changed over time and there has been a push for the legalization of marijuana.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have passed laws for medical marijuana. Does legalize medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities? The legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a decrease in traffic fatalities where there was no alcohol consumption. This lends support that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes. Young adults consume less alcohol where medical marijuana is legal. So legalizing marijuana does lead to a decrease in traffic fatalities.
I can’t make up my mind whether marijuana should be legalized. Since I have been a child, I was always taught that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to other drugs. Medical marijuana is prohibited in many states and in public, but alcohol is served at most bars and restaurants. Most marijuana consumption is done at home and this reduces traffic accidents and fatalities, as most people are less likely to drive.
According to some studies, there are benefits for medically ill patients. Alcohol and marijuana both impair driving-related functions such as hand-eye coordination and reaction time. But how many times have we seen drunk driving accidents that have seriously hurt people? We know that drinking too much alcohol can quickly kill a person, as there is the inability to metabolize alcohol as quickly as it is consumed.
Marijuana impacts the body differently as it affects the cardiovascular system, increases heart rate and blood pressure. You cannot die from marijuana. Alcohol and marijuana both affect hand-eye coordination and reaction time. It is possible that legalizing medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities, as it is not permitted in public. The bottom line is being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana while driving is dangerous.