A new study has revealed that contrary to what many prohibitionists feared, medical cannabis legalization in the country has not led to an uptick in rates of intoxicated driving. In fact, the research has found that states with medical marijuana programs have seen a reduction in drunk-driving rates, adding to the growing body of research showing that there is a link between cannabis reform and a reduced risk of drunk driving.
Published in the latest issue of the journal “Health Economics,” the study analyzed auto insurance premium data from 2014 to 2019. Researchers discovered that premiums in states with legal medical cannabis programs reduced by $22 per year after cannabis legislation passed. The researchers believe that this drop in auto insurance premiums may be due to decreased rates of drunk driving as people switch from alcohol to cannabis.
Although these results don’t seem to be significant at face value, they reveal a possible link between medical cannabis reform and increased road safety. Consequently, this leads to cost savings for drivers in terms of insurance premiums and medical expenses related to car accidents. In total, the study authors wrote, medical cannabis reform has decreased auto insurance premiums by a whopping $1.5 billion in states with medical marijuana programs.
Furthermore, it would result in further savings of $900 if the states that still don’t allow medical cannabis were to legalize it, resulting in a combined $2.4 billion in auto insurance savings across the country. The study authors wrote that their research showed evidence of a “positive social impact” on auto safety due to statewide medical cannabis reform.
Medical marijuana laws also resulted in annual cost savings of about $820 million due to reduced health expenditure; the laws have the potential to add an extra $350 million in savings if other states legalize cannabis.
Unlike previous studies that looked at the correlation between cannabis laws and traffic fatalities, this study focused on auto insurance trends. Since only a minimal percentage of car accidents result in fatalities, the researchers say focusing on fatalities didn’t paint a clear and concise picture.
But since auto-insurance companies are responsible for covering 67% of all automobile-related property and medical damage, studying insurance premium data in relation to medical cannabis laws would give the researchers a better picture of how cannabis reform has affected auto safety.
The research indicated that people are substituting alcohol for cannabis, especially in regions that experienced high rates of drunk driving before medical cannabis became legal. Licensed companies such as American Cannabis Partners may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they are indirectly contributing to improved road safety each time buyers opt for their products instead of alcoholic beverages.
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