Study Shows Decrease in Heavy Truck Crash Rates Since Cannabis Legalization
As cannabis legalization continues to sweep states across the country, we’re collectively able to examine trends regarding the potential positive and negative effects of a more widespread, adult-use cannabis market. One notion around cannabis legalization continuously points to the potential for more traffic accidents and increased danger on the road, but one new study, specifically looking at cannabis legalization and truck driving, suggests the opposite could be true. The study, humorously titled “Marijuana Legalization and Truck Safety: Does the Pineapple Express Damage More Pineapples?” has researchers from the University of Tennessee, University of Arkansas, and Iowa State University honing in on America’s $800 billion truck driving industry. Using a state-level panel of heavy truck crash statistics from 2005 to 2019, and a difference-indifference estimation strategy, the researchers tested whether legalization of cannabis has affected the crash rate of heavy trucks. The results show that legalization, in fact, does not increase average crash rates in the states examined. On the contrary, the research found that recreational cannabis legalization actually reduced the amount of heavy truck accidents by 11%. Specifically, six of the eight states examined, saw a decrease in truck accidents and two saw increases. Vermont and Washington saw the most profound decreases, at -21.5% and -20.1%, respectively, followed by Colorado and Massachusetts, at -18.3% and -18% respectively, and finally Oregon and California, at -3.7% and -3.2%, respectively. The two states reporting increases were Maine at 4.18% and Nevada at 25.6%. It’s important to note that this is a preprint, meaning that the study has yet to undergo peer review. Researchers didn’t offer a solid explanation around the reduction in crashes following cannabis legalization, though they offered a couple of theories: People who might typically drink alcohol could have switched to cannabis. Though it’s still against the law to drive under…
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