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Could legalizing pot be a traffic safety jackpot in Colorado?

The University of Colorado released a study recently that could mean a promising future for the legalization of medical marijuana. Sure, pot can help alleviate patients' pains, but can it also decrease the number of people who die in traffic accidents? According to a recent study, that looks like it could be true.

Researchers from Colorado and Montana looked at the rates of marijuana use in the 16 states where it's been legalized, as well as the traffic fatality rates. According to their reports, there is about a 9 percent decrease in the rate of traffic fatalities where medical marijuana is legal. There are various potential reasons for this, according to the researchers.

Researchers suggest that when marijuana is legalized and more accessible, more young adults use marijuana instead of alcohol. (Reports don't suggest that kids or teens use marijuana at a higher rate.) We all know how dangerous it is to drive under the influence of alcohol. In fact, studies show that it is more dangerous to drive while drunk rather than impaired by marijuana. Drunk drivers tend to drive more aggressively, therefore causing more traffic fatalities.

Of course, the researchers are not encouraging anyone to drive under the influence of marijuana. But that's another suggested benefit of pot. Whereas drinking is commonly done at restaurants and bars, marijuana users often smoke in the privacy of their own homes, which keeps them off of the streets and reduces the likelihood of an accident.

What do you think about this research? Does it sound reasonable and like effective support to push the legalization of marijuana even further?


The Colorado Independent: "CU study: Medical marijuana saves lives," Scot Kersgaard, Nov. 30, 2011

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