Collision claims in states that have legalized recreational marijuana have increased by as much as 6% from January 2012 through October 2017, according to new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).
HLDI analysts estimate that the frequency of crash claims per insured vehicle year rose a combined 6% following the start of retail sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
“The new IIHS-HLDI research on marijuana and crashes indicates that legalizing marijuana for all uses is having a negative impact on the safety of our roads,” says IIHS-HLDI president David Harkey. “States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety.”
Nat Wienecke, senior vice president for federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA), described the data coming out of states like Colorado as “really frightening.” He said: “Road accidents are up, the homeless rate is up, vagrancy is up – all sorts of social issues have evolved in Colorado since the state legalized cannabis for recreational-use.”
While the PCIAA doesn’t take a stance on larger social policy issues like the national legalization of marijuana, the association does have a keen interest in ensuring the safety of American roads and work places. As more and more states consider legalizing cannabis for recreational-use, the PCIAA is working with the federal government and pushing for more research by the Department of Transportation into finding an impairment standard for the use of marijuana.
“The science behind this is very challenging,” Wienecke told Insurance Business. “Marijuana is not like alcohol, where you can easily detect a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. With THC and the other compounds in marijuana, the science is not