What's the Rush, RI?

Advocating for Evidence Based Marijuana Policy

Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption

October, 2012

Authors:
D. Mark Anderson
Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics Montana State University
Benjamin Hansen
Department of Economics University of Oregon
Daniel I. Rees
Department of Economics University of Colorado Denver

WTR-RI Research and Analysis Team Note:
The introductory summary of this extensive 25 page paper is quoted as follows:

To date, 17 states have passed medical marijuana laws, yet very little is known about their effects. The current study examines the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities, the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5 through 34. The first full year after coming into effect, legalization is associated with an 8 to 11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities. The impact of legalization on traffic fatalities involving alcohol is larger and estimated with more precision than its impact on traffic fatalities that do not involve alcohol. Legalization is also associated with sharp decreases in the price of marijuana and alcohol consumption, a pattern of results consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes. Because alternative mechanisms cannot be ruled out, the negative relationship between legalization and alcohol-related traffic fatalities does not necessarily imply that driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving under the influence of alcohol.

The complete paper and 9 page bibliography can be seen at:
http://pages.uoregon.edu/bchansen/MML_Alcohol_Consumption.pdf

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