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Research Letter
June 22, 2020

Change in Traffic Fatality Rates in the First 4 States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York
  • 2Harvard College, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(8):1119-1120. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.1769

Marijuana use impairs driving,1 but researchers have not yet conclusively determined if a state’s legalizing recreational marijuana is associated with traffic fatality rates. Two early studies reported no significant change in roadway deaths following legalization in Colorado and Washington,2,3 whereas a study including Oregon reported a temporary increase.4 A more recent study, including 2017 data, found a statistically significant increase in fatal crashes only after commercial stores opened, suggesting that the effect of legalization may take more time to observe.5

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