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December 2011



More on the life-saving results of medical marijuana laws

The excellent Maia Szalavitz in Time: Why Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths

A nicely-written and clear article on this study and it’s got a huge circulation.

States that legalize medical marijuana see fewer fatal car accidents, according to a new study, in part because people may be substituting marijuana smoking for drinking alcohol. […]

Studies have consistently found that while mixing either marijuana or alcohol with driving is unadvisable, driving high is much safer than driving drunk.

Bingo. That’s the key. We’ll never get far with the public by claiming that driving while high is better than driving while straight, but they’re much more likely to understand the clear truth that drunk driving is far more dangerous than stoned driving so that substitution is a positive effect.

It’s been suggested in comments here since the study clearly gets its life-saving benefits from young people switching to marijuana, that we, as drug policy reformers, should be less quick to claim that regulated legalization can control use by the young. And yet, as Maia shows, the study even covers that:

The authors also found that in states that legalized medical use, there was no increase in marijuana smoking by teenagers — a finding seen in other studies as well. But, in many cases, the laws were linked with an increase in marijuana smoking among adults in their 20s; this rise was accompanied by a reduction in alcohol use by college age youth, suggesting that they were smoking weed instead.

That’s positive all the way around.

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