Study finds possible link between legalized recreational pot use and risk of car crashes

(WPRI) — A study released Thursday shows a possible link between marijuana use and car crashes.

The study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. The research focused on data in three of the first states to legalize recreational pot — Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

The study found after legalization, Colorado had 14 percent more crashes compared to surrounding western states.

Washington saw a more than 6 percent increase, and Oregon had a more than 4.5 percent increase.

“The big take away is that legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, Washington and Oregon has not been good for highway safety,” said Matt Moore with the Highway Loss Data Institute.

While the numbers are a safety concern, it may also have an impact on drivers’ wallets in those states.

“If overall crash risk continues to increase, insurers will likely have to take actions to compensate for that risk,” said Moore.

Researchers agree the issue needs to be studied more closely, especially in other states like Massachusetts, California and Nevada, that just recently passed legislation to legalize recreational pot.