Recreational Cannabis Markets Are Legalized As A Traffic Death Caused Increase

Recreational Cannabis Markets Are Legalized As A Traffic Death Caused Increase ...

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a psychoactive medicine extracted from the cannabis plant. It is legal in many countries and jurisdictions, and its use has implications, including diminished cognition and an increased risk of addiction.

The University of Illinois Chicago has conducted a new research that used death certificate data to assess death rates in states that have legalized recreational cannabis dispensaries or those that have only medical marijuana access.

The findings from the study indicate that car accident fatalities have increased in four of the seven states included in the study where recreational cannabis markets were legalized. On average, the presence of recreational markets contributed to a 10% increase in automobile fatalities.

Samantha Marinello, the study's first author, believes the findings suggest that states with legal recreational cannabis should develop policies and public health initiatives to mitigate this potential danger and increase awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence.

“To see a 10% jump in motor vehicle accident fatalities related to recreational markets is concerning,” says Marinello, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois School of Public Health.

Marinello and Lisa Powell, an UIC distinguished professor and director of the division, examined seven states that had legal recreational cannabis markets: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. They collected data from death certificates from 2009 to 2019. They identified three areas that have previously been linked to cannabis use but are still poorly understood: automobile accidents, suicide, and opioid overdose.

Researchers compared mortality rates in states with legal markets with those in states with comprehensive medical cannabis programs, as well as similar mortality statistics before implementing markets.

Marinello said that while we wanted to examine states with very different mortality trends or social ideology, we took a look at each state and outcome and identified comparison states with existing medical marijuana programs and with similar pre-trends.

Colorado (16%), Oregon (22%), Alaska (20%), and California (14%) saw significant increases in crash fatalities.

The findings indicate that recreational markets might result in an increase in cannabis-intoxicated driving and accident deaths, indicating that policies must be implemented to minimize driving under the influence of cannabis.

There was no evidence that recreational markets had an influence on suicide, which is surprising because cannabis use is linked to the development of depression and suicidality.

Recreation markets were associated with an average of 11% reduction in fatalities in opioid overdose deaths. This reduction ranged from 3% to 28% in all seven states.

Marinello asserted that the reduction in opioid overdose fatalities is another area of concern for states considering legalization.

Marinello said the research provides evidence that policymakers should consider when legalizing recreational cannabis markets.

Samantha Marinello and Lisa M. Powell, 16 January 2023, Social Science & Medicine, DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.115680.

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