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Road Safety, Crime, and the Black Market

The creation of a “regulated cannabis market”, has failed to curtail the black market in states that have legalized. In fact, the black market activity in those states has expanded.




  • Marijuana businesses often operate as cash-only, which makes tax collection difficult and endangers the public as they become targets for crime.


  • 2019 study conducted in Denver found that the existence of both recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver neighborhoods are significantly and positively associated with increased crime.[i]

Legalization of recreational marijuana will endanger anyone and everyone who uses Minnesota roadways.

  • Unlike alcohol, there is no efficient way to judge driver impairment based on marijuana usage. A rush to legalization without establishing measures to recognize and prevent impaired driving will enable impaired drivers to get behind the wheel without any accountability.

  • According to AAA:

    • Numerous laboratory-based studies have demonstrated that marijuana use impairs many aspects of cognitive and physical function that are necessary for safe driving.

    • Marijuana can decrease car handling, can impair performance and attention while increasing reaction times, following distance and lane deviation.

    • Mixing alcohol and marijuana may produce effects greater than either drug on its own.


  • A 2021 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety the effects of marijuana legalization on injury and fatal traffic crash rates in the United States during the period 2009–2019 found the combined effect of legalization and retail sales was a 5.9% increase in injury crash rates and a 3.8% increase in fatal crash rates.[ii]


Driving while high is a growing, underappreciated problem that will only be exacerbated by a rush to legalization

  • A recent Liberty Mutual survey found that a third of students said driving under the influence of marijuana is legal in states where it is recreational. More than 20% of teens reported it's common among their friends. Parent perceptions were similar: 27% said it's legal and 14% said it's common among friends.[iii]


  • A two-year, statewide initiative conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation to engage Coloradans in a meaningful discussion about marijuana-impaired driving and learn more about the public’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors on the topic found that people who consumed marijuana more often considered driving under the influence of marijuana to be less dangerous.[iv]


  • Driving simulator tests have shown that drivers who are high on marijuana react more slowly, find it harder to pay attention, have more difficulty maintaining their car’s position in the lane and make more errors when something goes wrong than they do when they’re sober.[v] 

Insurance Claims

  • The Highway Loss Data Institute has been monitoring changes in collision claim frequency in states that legalized recreational marijuana sales since Colorado first began sales in 2014. The results of their most recent (2020) study continues to indicate that the legalization of marijuana is associated with increases in collision claim frequencies in most states examined. Results for Colorado, Washington, and Nevada were higher compared with the nearby control states, and the results were statistically significant.[vi]



States who legalize marijuana for recreational use experience an increase in traffic accident and traffic fatalities.



  • A concerning number of Washington state drivers involved in fatal crashes are testing positive for recent use of marijuana, according to new (2020) research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

    • The share of drivers involved in fatal crashes, with THC in their system, doubled after marijuana was legalized in Washington state.[ix]

    • The average number of THC-positive drivers increased, too. In the five years before legalization, an average of 56 drivers involved in fatal crashes each year were THC-positive. In the five years after legalization, the average jumped to 130. [x]




[i] Lorine A. Hughes, Lonnie M. Schaible & Katherine Jimmerson (2020) Marijuana Dispensaries and Neighborhood Crime and Disorder in Denver, Colorado, Justice Quarterly, 37:3, 461-485, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2019.1567807











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