As Canada embraces national legalization of marijuana, findings in the United States may urge elected officials to regulate the drug more diligently. According to two new studies, states, where pot is entirely legal, saw a spike in car crashes.
While crash fatalities didn’t increase, car wrecks did. The first study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found crashes increased 6 percent in Washington, Oregon and Colorado when compared to neighboring states without legal recreational marijuana. The study also aimed to account for other variables such as weather, age, location and job status. Even when taking the other factors into account, crash rates were higher.
A second study from the IIHS looked at crashes before and after weed became legal in western states. The findings showed a 5.2 percent increase in crashes the three states.
Although eight states in the U.S. have legalized recreational pot, it remains illegal to drive under the influence of any substance. However, the U.S. does not have a standardized test to check for drivers under the influence of marijuana like alcohol. Most drivers showed more weaving, slowed perceptional and thinking skills in simulators when driving under the influence of pot.
An October survey found 6 in 10 Americans support legalizing weed, which means states will likely continue to deal with more impaired drivers until police departments and the public are equipped with better tools to recognize how high is too high.