US drug driving fatalities rise after cannabis legalisation

Legal cannabis in the US has been linked to an increase in fatal car accidents since 2012.

Research by McGill University in Canada found that, since legalisation, there was an increase of 15 per cent in fatal collisions and a 16 per cent increase in associated fatalities.

Currently, cannabis is legal for recreational use in 15 US states and Washington DC, with Virginia set to join them in July after legislation was passed earlier this month.

5,000 more deaths

The Canadian researchers sought to understand the correlation between cannabis legalisation and road deaths following Canada’s decision to legalise the drug for recreational use in 2018.

In the US, drug driving-related fatalities rose while road deaths as a whole declined, but the study estimated that if the drug was legalised nationwide, it would result in nearly 5,000 additional motor-vehicle deaths a year.

The death rate has remained higher in subsequent years since legislation, ruling out claims of only an initial rise immediately after legalisation.

Drug ‘misery’

In England and Wales, Ministry of Justice figures show that the number of drug driving prosecutions increased by a fifth (19 per cent) between 2018 and 2019.

AA President Edmund King warned that drug driving needs to be stopped “before it becomes endemic”.

Last month, the UK Government rejected yet another call to decriminalise drug possession, making clear that decriminalisation would fail to address “the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families and communities”.

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