Admittedly, this may come as a surprise to some. Especially the experts that have claimed cannabis legalization leads to more DUIs. However, in accordance with the study, quite the contrary has been found.
The study specifically looks into ZIP codes where cannabis is either legal or illegal.
It found that in states where medical marijuana was legal, insurance premiums dropped an average of $22 annually per driver. More interestingly, ZIP codes with the most pronounced decrease happened to be in areas where dispensaries could be found.
The study authors speculate that this has to do with the fact that marijuana legalization has helped to decrease the rates of drunk drivers in these areas. Likely due to the fact that more of these previous drunk drivers are now consuming marijuana instead.
Naturally, in all areas, it remains illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis’s psychoactive properties. Still, as a 2015 study discovered, it’s much safer to drive stoned than drunk. In fact, according to that study, it’s almost as safe as driving sober if certain variables are adjusted for.
However, beyond the safety of driving stoned over drunk, there’s also the fact of how each substance makes you feel.
Alcohol tends to embolden you when you’re inebriated. In turn, you’re more likely to lose sight of proper judgment and make the poor decision to get behind the wheel.
On the contrary, marijuana users are much more in the habit of staying at home. Beyond this social difference, certain individuals may even feel more anxious (or paranoid) to get behind the wheel while stoned.
Even with the Evidence and Lower Insurance Premiums, Lawmakers Against Cannabis Continue to Point at DUIs
Beyond these facts, it’s also safe to say many are switching to marijuana once legalized. A 2018 study saw that alcohol sales decreased by 12% once legal cannabis shops began to appear.
Still, even when marijuana is shined in a positive light as such, lawmakers that remain against the substance continue to use DUIs as an example to not legalize it. As mentioned, many make the claim that DUIs increase with legalization.
However, even more so, many will argue that it would require strict changes in how law enforcement handles DUI cases.
The previous argument has always been that you can’t test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive substance in marijuana – as rapidly as you could for alcohol. Since these arguments, there have been improvements in technology.
California is one of the first states to implement a saliva test that can detect THC within eight minutes. Still, this test isn’t 100% reliable considering it can pick up THC even if consumed up to 3 days prior.
With that said, there’s only so much law enforcement can do to indicate whether or not someone is driving stoned.
But, for a moment, consider the circumstances we’ve laid out here:
- Legalization has provided such safer driving environments, car insurance premiums are dropping as a result.
- Studies indicate it’s technically safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than alcohol (though, it’s still not recommended).
- Many who do consume cannabis are likely not to get behind the wheel simply due to the fact that cannabis isn’t as much of a social drug and may make someone too anxious to drive.
Under these circumstances, it’s safe to say that the DUI argument against marijuana legalization has officially become outdated.