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Spike in crashes since pot legalized could lead to higher insurance costs

"It would be hard to say that marijuana is a definitive factor, lacking a citation, in a significant number of crashes to say that what we're seeing here is a trend", Kenton Brine, president, Northwest Insurance Council, said.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in about 3 percent higher overall collision claim frequencies.

The result of this research shows a higher incidence of collision claims following legalization.

IIHS studied the frequency of collision claims - that is, claims of damage to the driver's auto, usually because of an accident the driver caused - in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

The House and Senate have stopped considering legislation to legalize recreational pot and instead opted to create a 19-member joint commission to study the situation in states like Washington and Colorado, where it's already legal. The researchers note many high drivers also test positive for alcohol in their systems.

While more drivers have admitted to using marijuana, previous studies about its impact on driving performance have been inconclusive, the institute said.

However, a recent insurance study released last week claimed there is link between increased auto crash claims to legalized marijuana.

"We'll continue to monitor these states and add additional states to the analysis". Results based exclusively on state data, however, showed only seven states with lower rates than those where medical marijuana is outlawed.

It found a 3 percent increase in collision claims in those states compared with Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada, where it is not legal. Legal recreational pot sales in Colorado began in January 2014, followed six months later in Washington, and in October 2015 in Oregon. But when it comes to driving safety, a new study poses doobie-ous ramifications. Washington recorded a 6 percent higher rate than Montana and Idaho in terms of collision claims. "We see strong evidence of an increased crash risk in states that have approved recreational marijuana sales".

'Both those who used cannabis occasionally early in adolescence and those who started using it much later during the teenage years had a heightened risk of nicotine dependence, harmful drinking, and other illicit drug use.

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.

On average, the traffic-related death rate for those aged 15 to 44 dropped following the passage of medical marijuana laws.

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