Charlie Buttrey

January 14, 2022

The Vermont legislature legalized cannabis a couple of years ago, and now cities and towns in Vermont have to decide whether to allow cannabis sales within their jurisdictions. I am conflicted on whether my little town of Thetford should allow any of its four stores to sell pot, and I don’t even know if the store owners themselves are interested.

In any event, it should be noted that, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (which can be accessed HERE), researchers from Boston Medical Center, Boston University, and the University of Victoria in British Columbia found that deadly car crashes involving both cannabis and alcohol consumption have more than doubled in the United States in the past two decades, as have car crash deaths involving just cannabis.

Analyzing 19 years of data, researchers found that, from 2000 to 2018, the percentage of crash deaths involving cannabis increased from 9 percent to 21.5 percent, and the percentage of deaths involving cannabis and alcohol also more than doubled, from 4.8 percent to 10.3 percent. Their results also show that cannabis-involved car crashes are more likely to involve the deaths of passengers, as well as individuals younger than 35, compared to crash deaths not involving cannabis.

Some people have argued that legalizing marijuana could lead to a reduction in alcohol use, since some people would trade in their alcohol for cannabis. But the study suggests instead that cannabis and alcohol are increasingly being used together when it comes to impaired driving, and that cannabis increases the likelihood of alcohol use in crash deaths.

Which is not to say that I oppose legalization. I don’t. A lot of people’s lives were ruined over the decades by the marijuana laws in this country. But let’s not pretend that pot is a benign alternative to alcohol.

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