Newly released statistics from the Nevada Department of Public Safety show that traffic deaths in the state have gone down by about 10 percent in the one year since recreational marijuana was legalized.
According to a report from Reno NBC affiliate KRNV, a total of 310 people were killed in car crashes in an 11-month span from July 2016 to May 2017. Over the same period from July 2017 to May 2018, meaning the first 11 months since recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada, this figure dropped to 277 fatalities. KRNV noted that the Nevada DPS used a rather unusual 11-month timeframe as it didn’t have available data for June of the current year.
Separately, another Reno-based affiliate, ABC’s KOLO, cited data from the Nevada Department of Taxation which suggested that marijuana sales in the state for medical and recreational purposes were higher than expected in the 10 months since the drug was legalized for recreational use in July 2017.
So far, statistics from the Washoe County District Attorney’s office have yet to reveal if last year’s move to legalize recreational marijuana in Nevada has had any impact on the state’s crime rates. But in a statement issued to KOLO, Sierra Cannabis Coalition representative Will Adler noted that the legalization has been a success so far.
“We haven’t seen a massive increase in any sort of marijuana-related incidents. On the criminality end, that is a huge success,” said Adler.
Despite the lack of data on crime rates, the newly released statistics from the Nevada DPS proved interesting, as hinted by KRNV, because many opponents of recreational marijuana had raised concerns that the legalization of pot for such purposes could result in a greater number of traffic deaths and arrests for driving under the influence. State laws show that people can be classified as impaired if they have more than two nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system.
The results from Nevada were published months after a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggested in March that there was “little evidence” that the legalization of pot was indeed responsible for increases in traffic deaths in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, according to a report from pro-pot legalization nonprofit NORML. The organization also noted that the March study yielded similar results to a 2017 paper which showed that car crash deaths for Washington and Colorado ‘were not statistically different” from those in states where marijuana has yet to be legalized for recreational use.