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Colorado sees claim rates increase after legalization of marijuana

24 June 2017

There could be a link between marijuana and auto wrecks - let us explain.

Insurance claims data show that Colorado, Washington and OR all experienced an increase in auto accident claims after retail marijuana sales became legal, according to research by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

The study, which tracks collision claims from 2012 to 2016, found that Colorado had nearly 14 percent more crashes than neighboring states where marijuana was still illegal.

Colorado experienced a 14 percent increase in collision claims compared with nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.

These reports follow concerns of marijuana abuse as figures show an increase in the number of adults using the drug in states where laws on its use are lax.

Full text of the study, "Crash fatality rates after recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado", appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

More drivers have admitted that they use marijuana, but past research on the impact of driving while high remain inconclusive, experts said.

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But not all marijuana advocates support studying legalization further. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington. A new study is saying it may be due to recreational marijuana. Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use. "It is something states need to look at when they're considering legalization".

There has been a rise of vehicle crashes in places where recreational marijuana is legalized, a new report claims.

'Both those who used cannabis occasionally early in adolescence and those who started using it much later during the teenage years had a heightened risk of nicotine dependence, harmful drinking, and other illicit drug use.

"Our study focused on deaths and actually found what we expected going into this", Jason Adedoyte, a trauma surgeon and lead author of the study, told Reuters. An additional 17 states also allow limited access for medial use.

"The worst thing that could have happened to the state of Colorado was passing the marijuana law", Lonnie Britton said.

"Worry that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates isn't misplaced", says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.

The researchers pulled the data not just for Washington and Colorado, but also for eight other states - Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texasand Wisconsin - that could serve as comparisons.