Nevada Traffic Deaths Plunge 10% Following Marijuana Legalization

It is the one-year anniversary of recreational marijuana in Nevada - how has the state fared?

Newly published data from the Nevada Department of Public Safety reveals an unexpected finding: traffic deaths in the state have plunged by 10 percent in the first year since recreational marijuana was legalized.

According to a report from NBC Reno, about 310 people died in traffic accidents in Nevada between July 2016 and May 2017. From July 2017 to May 2018 — the first 11-months of legal recreational marijuana — just 277 people died in car crashes across the state. KRNV noted that the Nevada Department of Public Safety was unable to provide data for June.

Marijuana became legal in Nevada on January 01, 2017. The law allows anyone 21 and older to possess marijuana and consume it from a licensed dealer.

Some of the narratives of recreational marijuana spun by opponents were that traffic fatalities and DUI arrests would surge if legalized.

The new results from the Nevada Department of Public Safety were published 4-months after a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which suggested that there was “little evidence” that the legalization of marijuana was responsible for increases in traffic deaths in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Researchers at the University of Oregon examined traffic accident in Colorado and Washington after legalization and cross-referenced the data with pre-legalization traffic trends.

They stated, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

Researchers concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

Further, opponents of marijuana said criminal activity would pick up in the state; however, none of that has occurred, as of yet.

“We haven’t seen a massive increase in any sort of marijuana-related incidents. On the criminality end, that is a huge success,” said Will Adler, Sierra Cannabis Coalition.

Separately, the Nevada Department of Taxation said in the first ten months, the state has exceeded marijuana sales projections for the entire fiscal year. So far Nevadans have spent $433.5 million on medical and recreational marijuana, which has spurred a dramatic rise in tax revenue for local governments.