Medical Marijuana Politics

The argument regarding the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado has its fair share of both supporters and detractors. Some point to a drop in violent crimes and big bumps in tax revenue, while others will point to an increase the number of people driving under the influence. Interestingly, though, that little stat may actually add one more item into the pros column.

Since weed legalization, Colorado has seen the number of highway fatalities on the state's roads drop to nearly their lowest point in history. The Washington Post's "opinion blog on civil liberties and the criminal justice system," The Watch, has the story, claiming that not only are year-over-year averages down, but that in so far in 2014, highway fatalities are below a 13-year average.

We won't get into the deeper statistical analysis – The Watch's page has a few graphs for stats nerds to dig into – but we will talk about why these figures are down. First, there is the obvious explanation. Cars and trucks are safer today than they've ever been, which would logically lead to a drop in highway deaths. We cannot, however, point to miles driven as a motivator behind the drop, as Coloradoans are actually driving more.

Then, there's the less obvious answer. The legalization of weed may cut back on the number of people drinking. With fewer drunks, that means fewer dangerous drunk drivers on the road. And, as The Watch cites, stoned drivers are safer than drunk ones, so the drop in fatalities makes sense. Of course, we'll agree that more study is required to conclusively prove that point, but it's certainly one worth considering.

Whatever the reason for the drop, fewer highway fatalities, even if it isn't directly related to pot legalization, is certainly something that all sides can agree is a positive development.