Have you ever wondered how the legalization of cannabis might impact road safety? There’s a lot of debate around this topic.
Some people worry that more access to cannabis could lead to more impaired drivers on the road, while others argue that cannabis users may be more likely to stay at home rather than go out and potentially cause accidents.
In Toronto, Canada, researchers have been digging into this issue, trying to understand how the opening of legal cannabis stores in 2018 has affected traffic accidents in the city. The results? Well, they might surprise you.
No huge increase in car crashes
In October 2018, Canada made a big move: it legalized the recreational use of marijuana. For our friends in Toronto, this meant that legal cannabis stores started popping up around the city.
A group of researchers decided to study if these new stores led to more traffic accidents. After all, it’s fair to worry that easier access to cannabis might mean more people driving under the influence, right?
In simpler terms, the number of car crashes and people getting hurt on the road didn’t increase after cannabis was legalised.
Possible drawbacks to study
There could be a few reasons for this. One reason might be that there simply weren’t enough cannabis stores per person to make a difference.
It’s also possible that other road safety policies in Toronto were doing a good job in keeping the number of accidents down.
Now, let’s zoom out a bit.
Similar studies have been done in other places, like Washington state in the US. There, researchers also didn’t see a change in traffic deaths after a year of legal cannabis. Interestingly, Washington had a higher density of cannabis stores per person compared to Toronto, but the result was still the same.
Of course, no study is perfect, and the researchers acknowledge this. For example, there might have been some illegal cannabis stores that the researchers didn’t know about.
Also, the researchers didn’t have a lot of information on how much cannabis people in different parts of Toronto were consuming. Plus, the Toronto police data didn’t show whether a driver was impaired by cannabis at the time of an accident.
The data doesn’t support the stigma
So what does this all mean? The researchers suggest we need more studies to look at how different factors might affect road safety after the legalization of cannabis.
For example, it might be interesting to see what happens when there are more cannabis stores per person. Or how the presence of illegal stores might change things.
As we continue to debate canabis legalisation, it’s crucial to keep an eye on how it impacts our communities.
The researchers’ findings in Toronto are a valuable part of that conversation. For now, though, it seems like legalizing cannabis might not have as big an impact on road safety as some people might think.