Health and Fitness

Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Infrequently Associated With Changes In Cannabinoid Prevalence In Drivers

Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Infrequently Associated With Changes In Cannabinoid Prevalence In DriversSacramento, CA—(ENEWSPF)—September 4, 2014. The imposition of state laws legalizing the use of medical cannabis is not frequently associated with an increase in the prevalence of cannabinoids identified among drivers in fatal accidents, according to data published in the Journal of Safety Research.

Investigators from the California Department of Motor Vehicles assessed cannabinoid prevalence among fatal-crash-involved drivers in 12 US states following the implementation of medical marijuana laws. Researchers evaluated data for the years 1992 to 2009.

Authors reported that most states did not experience any increase in cannabinoid prevalence. “[T]he implementation of medical marijuana laws was found to be reliably associated with increased cannabinoid prevalence in only 3 of the 12 states: California, Hawaii, and Washington,” investigators determined. “The increases in all three states were step increases, meaning that the prevalence increased to a new level in these states and remained relatively flat for long time intervals subsequent. … [F]inding that all three states experienced step increases in cannabinoid prevalence, rather than upward trends, suggests that the medical marijuana laws … may have indeed provided marijuana access to a stable population of patients as intended, without increasing the numbers of new users over time.”

Researchers concluded, “Increased prevalence of cannabinoids among drivers involved in fatal crashes was only detected in a minority of the states that implemented medical marijuana laws. The observed increases were one-time changes in the prevalence levels, rather than upward trends, suggesting that these laws result in stable increases in driver marijuana prevalence.”

Full text of the study, “Changes in driver cannabinoid prevalence in 12 US states after implementing medical marijuana laws,” appears in the Journal of Safety Research.