According to new data from the Nevada Department of Public Safety, traffic deaths have fallen 10 percent in the first year of legal recreational cannabis.
Between July 2016 and May 2017, there were a reported 310 deaths due to traffic accidents. The number of deaths dropped to 277 between July 2017 and May 2018, the first 11 months of legal recreational cannabis.
In Nevada, a driver is considered impaired if there is more than two nanograms of active THC detected in their system. Other states with legal recreational cannabis aren’t experiencing the drop-off in traffic deaths like Nevada. In Colorado, traffic accidents due to cannabis have steadily increased since 2013. The legal limit in Colorado is five nanograms of active THC.
Before legalization, one of the major concerns was that traffic fatalities and DUIs would increase with recreational cannabis. 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 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.
Although traffic deaths are down, the number of DUI arrests resulting solely from a positive cannabis test has increased. In 2017, the sheriff’s office arrested 852 people who later tested positive for cannabinoids in their blood.
Legal recreational cannabis has been a boon for sales in Nevada with the state collecting over $55 million in taxes 10 months into the fiscal year, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation. Retailers in Nevada have sold over $430 million in cannabis and the $55 million figure outs Nevada well ahead of the state’s projection for the entire year.