• Dean Smith

How the Legalization of Marijuana is Affecting Drivers…and Insurance

The legalizing of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has increased collision claims by approximately three percent according to Insurance Journal and a new report by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

The study conducted by HLDI analyzed Colorado, Oregon and Washington collision claims before and after the legalization law changes for recreational use, also utilizing neighboring states as additional controls such as Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The authors of the HLDI report note that more drivers are admitting to using marijuana, and there has been an increase of the substance showing up in people involved in motor vehicle crashes.

The results? According to Matt Moore, Senior Vice President of HLDI, “The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes. The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.” Colorado coming in first for biggest estimated increase, then Washington and Oregon respectively, in comparison to their surrounding control states.

Although there are a plethora of factors indicated in the study, there is no denying that the legalizing of marijuana has had an effect on drivers and the claims industry in said states. Seemingly, there will be more states following Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, as well. According to Insurance Journal, “In addition to Colorado, Oregon and Washington, five other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for all uses, and 21 states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs as of June. An additional 17 states permit limited access for medical use. Marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law.”

What does this mean for the Tri-State area? Philadelphia, PA has decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, New Jersey may be heading in the same direction, etc.

Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted that, “Worry that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates isn’t misplaced. HLDI’s finding on the early experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause.”

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