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Legalizing marijuana does not reduce traffic injuries in adolescents: study

TORONTO – Before the legalization of marijuana, some opponents of the concept suggested it could lead to poorer driving, especially among young people – an unfounded worry, according to a study. new study shows that legalization is not associated with changes in traffic injuries in Canada.

Research led by University of British Columbia professor Dr Russ Callaghan looked at youth traffic injuries before and after legalization occurred in 2018 and found no significant jump.

The researchers focused on Alberta and Ontario, the only two provinces that captured all emergency department visit data. Adolescents are defined as 14 to 17 year olds in Alberta and 16 to 18 years old in Ontario.

“The legalization of cannabis has raised general concerns that such legislation could increase traffic-related harms, especially among young people,” Callaghan said in a press release. . “However, our results do not show evidence that legalization is associated with significant changes in emergency department injury presentations.”

Research published in November in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that following the legalization of cannabis, the average weekly visits of young Alberta drivers to the emergency room fell by zero. 66. In Ontario, the weekly average of young drivers going to the emergency room has increased – but that increase is just 0.09.

In total, the researchers looked at multi-year data to compile the numbers, from April 2015 to December 2019.

Callaghan said he was a bit surprised by the results.

“I would have predicted that legalization would increase marijuana use and cannabis-induced driving among the population, and this pattern would lead to increased road safety presentations,” he said. traffic accidents to emergency departments.

“It is possible that our results could be due to the blocking effect of stricter federal law, such as Measure C-46, which went into effect shortly after legalization of marijuana. These new traffic safety laws have introduced tougher penalties for drivers impaired by the use of marijuana, alcohol, and combined use of marijuana and alcohol.”

Part of a project funded by the Canadian Medical Research Institute’s Catalyst Grant Institute, which focuses on cannabis research.

There was a slightly higher increase in traffic injuries considering all drivers rather than just young drivers: in Alberta the average weekly visits increased by 9.17 after the merger. legalization, while in Ontario the average weekly increase was 28.93. More than 52,000 and more than 186,000 motorists were involved in traffic accidents during that time period in Alberta and Ontario respectively.

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