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Canadian Legalization Didn’t Boost Traffic Injuries

The implementation of adult-use Cannabis sales in Canada isn’t associated with increased traffic injury hospitalizations

Colorado Department of Transportation

The implementation of adult-use Cannabis sales in Canada didn’t result in any increase in traffic injury-related hospitalizations. That’s according to data published in the journal Addiction

Investigators assessed rates of emergency department visits and hospitalizations in the years before and immediately following legalization. 

“Overall, there is no clear evidence that RCL [recreational cannabis laws] had any effect on rates of ED visits and hospitalizations for either motor vehicle or pedestrian/cyclist injury across Canada,” authors concluded.

The findings agree with those of a 2021 Canadian study. That one “found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalization patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”

Several American studies also found no significant changes in traffic safety immediately following the enactment of adult-use legalization. However, other assessments evaluating longer-term trends in traffic safety following legalization have yielded inconsistent results

There’s an impressive body of existing research challenging the mainstream idea that legalization somehow leads to increased automobile risks.

Full text of, “The effect of recreational cannabis legalization on rates of traffic injury in Canada,” appears in Addiction. Additional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance.

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