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How is Canadian Legalization Impacting Traffic Crashes?

Historically, in every single jurisdiction on earth where legalization was pursued and achieved, without exception, there were cannabis opponents spreading anti-cannabis myths and half-truths to try to deter voters or lawmakers from supporting reform.

One of the most popular areas of focus for cannabis opponents was, and presumably always will be, impaired driving. The talking point can come about in a variety of forms, however, the main premise of the talking point regardless of how it manifests itself is this – that if cannabis laws are reformed there will be terror on the roadways in the form of increased vehicle crashes.

Unfortunately for cannabis opponents, and fortunately for rational-thinking people worldwide, the data does not support opponents’ claims. A recent study out of Canada highlights what really happens (or doesn’t happen) after a nation legalizes cannabis for adult use. Below is more information about it via a news release from NORML:

Sherbrooke, Canada: Neither the passage of adult use marijuana legalization nor the growth of retail cannabis sales is associated with any increase in motor vehicle accidents, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Canadian investigators assessed trends in traffic crashes in Toronto in the years prior to and immediately following the adoption of adult-use legalization.

They reported: “[N]either the CCA [Canadian Cannabis Act] nor the NCS [number of cannabis stores per capita] is associated with concomitant changes in (traffic safety) outcomes. … During the first year of the CRUL’s [cannabis recreational use laws] implementation in Toronto, no significant changes in crashes, number of road victims and KSI [all road users killed or severely injured] were observed.”

The findings are consistent with those of other Canadian studies. One study, published last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, “ found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalization patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED [emergency department] visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”

Another study, published earlier this year, similarly concluded, “Overall, there is no clear evidence that RCL [recreational cannabis laws] had any effect on rates of ED visits and hospitalizations for either motor vehicle or pedestrian/cyclist injury across Canada.”

Full text of the study, “Did the cannabis recreational use law affect traffic crash outcomes in Toronto? Building evidence for the adequate number of authorized cannabis stores’ thresholds,” appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol ReviewAdditional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance.

This article first appeared on and is syndicated here with special permission.

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