What does the data gathered by the states that have legalized casual marijuana use tell us? It tells us that folks commenting on it, from presumed positions of authority, have either not read it or haven’t a clue how to interpret it – or don’t want it to contradict their primary beliefs.
Take Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and California Highway Patrolman representative Doug Villars, for example. They cited the data as showing large increases in crimes, car crashes and fatal accidents. This claim is false. Car crashes, fatal or otherwise, and crime in Washington and Colorado, did not change in the year after marijuana could be legally purchased in those states.
What did change was the number of traffic fatalities in which some level of marijuana could be detected in postmortem exams. In Washington, it went from 8 to 17 percent. This is not the “doubling of traffic fatalities” cited by Patrolman Villars and backed by Sheriff Mims, which would truly be horrible.
The role of marijuana in traffic safety needs more scientific refinement, but it is already clear that that impact of legalization will be small.
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Richard Bertken, Fresno