Weed and speed
It's impressive enough that a study (tinyurl.com/mmjstudy) released last week shows traffic fatalities involving young adults decrease 9 percent in medical marijuana states, as compared to non-MMJ states. Better, though, is the part where fatalities involving alcohol go down a whopping 15 percent.
"This is clearly a substantial effect, so we were surprised by not only the direction of the effect, but the size of the effect," says Dr. Daniel Rees, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson at Montana State University. "And it really, clearly, gives ammunition to people who want to legalize medical marijuana, or decriminalize marijuana."
The research, which took six months to complete and was taken up by Rees and Anderson out of curiosity, looked at traffic deaths in all 50 states between 1990 and 2009, and compared that data to numbers in the 16 states (and the District of Columbia) that have legalized medical marijuana. Results? Drivers between 20 and 29 years old in MMJ states aren't dying on the road as much.
Not only that, they're not even drinking the same amount.
"Beer sales drop 5 percent when you legalize medical marijuana," says Rees with a small laugh. "And beer, of course, is the most popular alcoholic beverage among young people."
The authors attribute the accident drop to a few factors, but mainly to differences in the way people consume marijuana and alcohol — at home, versus in public — and the effect either has on the body. For one thing, people under the influence of alcohol, as opposed to marijuana, "drive faster and take more risks," reads a statement.
• Learn a little more about how a police stop for suspected DUI can affect you by listening in on a live "teleclass" from the Cannabis Therapy Institute and attorney Leonard Frieling. Attendees can call in at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7, and learn a few basics, says a release: "Should you show the officer your medical marijuana card? Should you consent to a search? Should you perform the voluntary roadside sobriety tests?" Cost is $4.20 per person, payable at cannabistherapyinstitute.com/classes, or free for indigent patients.
• At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, we get the debut of Weed Wars, the Discovery Channel's look at the business side of medical marijuana. Set in Oakland, Calif.'s Harborside Health Center — the nation's largest MMJ dispensary, with 94,000 patients, says the network — the show will offer "a rare view of the business and its challenges from the perspective of both distributors and the patients they serve."
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