Thursday, December 01, 2011

More Pot, Less Beer, and Fewer Traffic Fatalities

Here's an interesting study titled "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption," by economists D. Mark Anderson and Daniel Rees.  This is the abstract:

"To date, 16 states have passed medical marijuana laws, yet very little is known about their effects. Using state-level data, we examine the relationship between medical marijuana laws and a variety of outcomes. Legalization of medical marijuana is associated with increased use of marijuana among adults, but not among minors. In addition, legalization is associated with a nearly 9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely due to its impact on alcohol consumption. Our estimates provide strong evidence that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes."

From the conclusion:

"Why does legalizing medical marijuana reduce traffic fatalities? Alcohol consumption appears to play a key role. The legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 6.4 percent decrease in fatal crashes that did not involve alcohol, but this estimate is not statistically significant at conventional levels. In comparison, the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with an almost 12 percent decrease in any-BAC fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers, and an almost 14 percent decrease in high-BAC fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers. 

The negative relationship between legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities involving alcohol is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes. In order to explore this hypothesis further, we examine the relationship between medical marijuana laws and alcohol consumption using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and The Brewer’s Almanac. We find that the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with decreased alcohol consumption, especially by 20- through 29-year-olds. In addition, we find that legalization is associated with decreased beer sales, the most popular alcoholic beverage among young adults (Jones 2008)." 

HT: Jonathan Turley

11 Comments:

At 12/01/2011 9:17 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

I have wondered what the total and complete legalization and deregulation of pot would mean for the USA.

Imagine people growing pot in their backyard and eschewing bars and liquor stores. If a guy was spending $50 a week on drinks, he would be ahead $2,500 or so in just one year.

My guess is that the pot-smugglers and liquor industry are the ones who put money into campaigns to shove down pot.

Who in his right mound would want to toss a guy into prison for growing and smoking pilot on his own property?

My further guess is that if pot were totally deregulated, so many people would grow it in their backyards or under lamps etc, that the commercial pot industry might disappear.

There would be no criminal element profiting from pot, or even associated with it---no money in it!

 
At 12/02/2011 1:15 AM, Blogger Milton Recht said...

The decrease in traffic accidents and fatalities from legalizing marijuana may be only temporary. The decrease may not be from decrease in alcohol consumption, but from the change in social setting for medical marijuana versus alcohol. There could be a decrease in total driving and nighttime driving, which will lower the accident rates.

The authors found that the main beneficial effect on traffic fatalities was at night and weekends: "Likewise, we find that the estimated effects of MMLs [medical marijuana legalization] on fatalities at night and on weekends (when alcohol consumption rises) are larger, and are more precise, than the estimated effects of MMLs on fatalities during the day and on weekdays."

There are more driving accidents at night, more accidents among younger (more likely to go out to drink and socialize), inexperienced drivers, more accidents among tired drivers, e.g. later at night after being up all day (when drinkers return home after a night out), more accidents among risk-taking drivers, like those willing to risk a DUI/DWI after having a few drinks, and more accidents the more miles driven, even without the driver drinking alcohol. These added accident causes are in addition to any physical or reaction impairment due to excessive alcohol.

The legalization of marijuana will increase the social use of the drug and make it as socially acceptable as drinking. The partial legalizing for medical use may have the unintended effect of decreasing nighttime driving, which will not occur if there is full legalization and full social acceptance.

Full legalization will increase nighttime driving, increase the number of younger people driving to use or obtain it, etc., over the amount for medical marijuana, raising the additional driving accident causative factors to the same level as with alcohol.

As far as I know neither the CDC nor alcohol groups run a multivariable analysis to see which accident causative factors predominate as the leading cause of accidents while driving after a few drinks. They just assume it is alcohol if alcohol consumption is present in either driver.

It may very well be that alcohol impaired driving during the daylight, when the driver is well rested, in older, experienced drivers, in non-risk taking drivers (safe drivers) does not cause accidents.

CDC could do, or anti-alcohol groups like MADD could fund, a study that would show the additive effects of alcohol consumption on the other known accident risk factors.

In effect, not including as variables in the statistical studies these non-alcohol accident factors will enable the studies to show a continuing need for lower levels of alcohol consumption. However, including the additional factors might upset the well-funded vested interest groups and diminish alcohol's role as a major accident causer.

With full marijuana legalization and social acceptance, the driving accident rate might not be lower as the study shows for medical marijuana legalization.

 
At 12/02/2011 1:18 AM, Blogger Milton Recht said...

Benjamin:

"Who in his right mound would want to toss a guy into prison for growing and smoking pilot on his own property?"

Prison guards and their union are a major lobbying group against the legalization of drugs.

 
At 12/02/2011 6:32 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Benjamin: "Who in his right mound would want to toss a guy into prison for growing and smoking pilot on his own property?"

The same people who do it now, those in the state. We repealed alcohol prohibition, but it's still tightly regulated and taxed. You've heard of moonshine, right? Why is that illegal?

If there's productivity to parasitize, the thugs of the state will find it and do their best to steal it.

 
At 12/02/2011 6:35 AM, Blogger Naqi Abdulraza said...

Thanks for providing such a great article, it was excellent and very informative. as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed. I found a lot of informative stuff in your article. Keep it up. Thank you. Go Green

 
At 12/02/2011 9:25 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Imagine people growing pot in their backyard and eschewing bars and liquor stores"...

Yeah, imagine the unemployment...

"Who in his right mound would want to toss a guy into prison for growing and smoking pilot on his own property?"...

As compared to what? Their 'left mound'?

Property confiscation is a pretty nice component from a law enforcement and politco's point of view...

"My further guess is that if pot were totally deregulated, so many people would grow it in their backyards or under lamps etc, that the commercial pot industry might disappear"...

Which would drive the need for those evil, filthy, polluting coal fired electric plants...

Oh dear! A real quandry in the making for those 'tree huggers & root kissers'...

"There would be no criminal element profiting from pot, or even associated with it---no money in it!"...

Don't kid yourself...

 
At 12/02/2011 9:49 AM, Blogger George Phillies said...

There is out there someplace a serious study of the effect of marijuana on driving skills, done perhaps 30 years ago by one of the Highway Safety groups, using people getting controlled doses of THC and heavily instrumented motor vehicles. Pot was supposedly vastly less effective than alcohol at reducing one's ability to drive.

 
At 12/02/2011 9:59 AM, Blogger bix1951 said...

government needs productive workers (slaves) in order that the economy will produce enough to support millions of idle unproductive bureaucrats. Pot seems to chill people and make them satisfied and they work less and stop paying taxes. Mother culture says work your butt off! Never be satisfied! Always want more!

 
At 12/02/2011 10:15 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

The decrease in traffic accidents and fatalities from legalizing marijuana may be only temporary. The decrease may not be from decrease in alcohol consumption, but from the change in social setting for medical marijuana versus alcohol. There could be a decrease in total driving and nighttime driving, which will lower the accident rates.

So? People would drive less and would drive less while drunk. Less people die. Doesn't that seem to be a good outcome?

 
At 12/02/2011 5:53 PM, Blogger Sandy said...

Question: The successful efforts to reduce smoking have added to the numbers of people living longer and greater costs for residential, intermediate and nursing home care by medicare, medicaid (Medical in California) and other end of life public costs. If large numbers of people start smoking again could that reduce the life span and save more in public funds as acute problems such as heart attacks increase? Could expanded pot smoking have some unexpected public finance benefits?

 
At 12/03/2011 6:02 PM, Blogger Don Culo said...

"Who in his right mound would want to toss a guy into prison for growing and smoking pilot on his own property? "

************

Cops, Prison guards, prosecutors who all those who make a living from the "War On Drugs".

 

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