Legalizing marijuana has a positive contribution on road safety and influences beer consumption in a negative way. That is the conclusion of a study by scientists at the University of Colorado. The U.S. researchers found that legalizing marijuana led to a decrease of almost 9 percent in the number of fatal accidents and a decrease of 5 percent in beer sales. It is noted that marijuana use decreases alcohol consumption among young people, which has a positive effect on road safety.
“It’s amazing how little is known about the effects of legalizing marijuana,” says Daniel Rees, Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado. The researchers point out that traffic related accidents are the main cause of death among thirty- and forty something Americans. In thirteen U.S. states the use of medical marijuana is allowed. The researchers found that alcohol consumption in those states amongst twenty year olds in the last twenty years has declined, resulting in fewer traffic deaths.
“Car drivers under the influence of alcohol, take more risks,” explains Rees. “These drivers underestimate the impact of alcohol on their driving ability, making them go faster and taking more risks. Car drivers under the influence of marijuana on the other hand tend to take fewer risks.” In the study however it also noted that marijuana is mostly used in private circles, while alcohol consumption often takes place in bars and restaurants.
Anderson, D. Mark, & Rees, Daniel I. (2011). Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption IZA Discussion Paper No. 6112