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Are Colorado roads more dangerous because of cannabis?

Do you feel safe while on the roads in states that have legalized recreational marijuana? You might be in more danger than states where it isn’t legalized, according to certain findings.

What are the numbers?

Different sources seem to agree that in states with legalized marijuana, there is a higher accident rate. This could affect auto insurance rates statewide. These sources find the following:

  • The Insurance Information Institute commented on a study from October 2018 that found accidents happened at a 12.5 percent higher frequency in Colorado than in nearby non-legalized states.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute estimated that there was a six percent higher frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle from 2012-2017 than non-legalized states.
  • The Governors Highway Safety Associationreported on a study that found 21 percent of traffic fatalities involved drivers who tested positive for marijuana in 2016.

However, a study released in September 2018 by the Reason Foundation challenged some of these studies on the “involvement” of marijuana. They regularly challenge these kinds of findings, stating that the cannabis’ impact on traffic incidents is negligible and inaccurate.

Part of what makes it difficult to report on crashes involving marijuana is that alcohol usually plays a factor as well. It is a dangerous mixture. The Insurance Information Institute admits that there is no current reliable “breathalyzer” test for marijuana use or a legal limit for any cannabinoid compounds in the blood. The two can increase each other’s’ effects indistinguishably.

However, the Insurance Information Institute maintains that statistically, more people consume more marijuana in legalized states than do not. Statistically, that includes more chances for more people that might decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. When those people crash, it could mean higher insurance premiums for you.

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