Marijuana legalization did not result in increased traffic injuries in Canada, a new study has found.
In a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers sought to investigate claims that establishing Cannabis legalization, which took effect in October 2018, would make roads less safe, as prohibitionists frequently claim.
But analyzing Ontario and Alberta data from 2015 to 2019, they could find no evidence at all to support that.
“Implementation of the Cannabis Act was not associated with evidence of significant post-legalization changes in traffic-injury [emergency department] visits in Ontario or Alberta among all drivers or youth drivers, in particular,” the study states.
The evidence doesn’t support claims that legalization might increase both marijuana-impaired driving and traffic injuries, said lead author Russ Callaghan.
The researcher admitted that the outcome of the study is “somewhat surprising.” He had “predicted that legalization would increase cannabis use and cannabis-impaired driving in the population, and that this pattern would lead to increases in traffic-injury presentations to emergency departments.”
Callaghan speculated that the deterrent effects of stricter impaired driving laws could explain the results.
He noted that Canada now has more severe penalties for impaired driving due to cannabis.
But Existing Research Backs It Up
Callaghan wasn’t expecting the results that his team ended up with. But there’s a body of existing research also challenging the mainstream idea that legalization somehow leads to increased traffic risks.
In fact, the experts who investigated for Congress found evidence about marijuana’s ability to impair driving is currently inconclusive.
Other researchers have independently found on multiple occasions that traffic fatalities do not increase after a state legalizes marijuana.