DUIs are well known, seen in TV shows, newspapers and movies…we now the accidents and reason to avoid it.  But a night out and one too many beers/cocktails/wine and things can take a rough turn. Recreational cannabis legal in 23 and medical in 40 states, so does legalizing medical marijuana reduce drunk driving?

Data finds a link between states with medical marijuana programs and lower risk of dangerous driving and car accidents. The data belongs to a study in Health Economics that analyzed insurance information and trends from auto companies from 2014 to 2019.

no vehicles at the road during daytime

RELATED: Regular Cannabis Users Better Drivers Than Casual Consumers, New Study Explains Why

The study found auto insurance premiums decreased in states with medical marijuana programs due to cars being involved in fewer accidents on the road.

The date showed premiums dropped by approximately $22 dollars a year after states enabled their medical marijuana programs. Researchers theorize that this is due to fewer car accidents and drunk driving in these states, with drivers substituting alcohol for cannabis.

“Medical cannabis legalization has reduced auto insurance premiums by $1.5 billion in all states that have currently legalized, with the potential to reduce premiums by an additional $900 million if the remaining states were to legalize,” reads the study.

The results are not wholly understood, but the link between legal cannabis and a reduction in drunk driving matters. While driving while high is potentially dangerous and should be avoided and monitored, the fact that legal marijuana might curb drunk driving is important. Statistics claim that drunk driving account for 10,000 deaths a year, accounting for a little under 30% of traffic fatalities.

“The odds of being involved in a motor vehicle crash when driving ‘stoned’ are approximately double those of sober driving, but significantly less than the 10 to 15 times increase when driving with a blood alcohol concentration of approximately 0.1,” shared Godfrey Pearlson, MD, medical director of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

Your body reacts to alcohol and marijuana differently. Despite the fact that both substances alter people’s perceptions, when people use marijuana they tend to stay at home or go to house parties. Alcohol prompts the opposite behavior, encouraging people to drive to bars and clubs.

RELATED: Here’s How Getting High Affects Your Driving, According To New Study

it seems legalizing marijuana does reduce drunk driving.  But driving stoned is not a smart idea. Marijuana affects areas of the brain that control your body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment.

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