Just Because Weed Is Legal Doesn’t Mean You Can Smoke And Drive

A man wearing a suit and dark sunglasses in the driver's seat of a vehicle lights a smoke.

This is the coolest anyone’s ever looked. I’m sorry, but you’ve simply never been this cool
Photo: Aaron Black (Getty Images)

As marijuana legalization gains ground, detractors keep trotting out the same tired concerns: What if kids get into it, and by exposure to the Devil’s Lettuce they immediately become heavy heroin users? What if mumble mumble supply chains mumble cartels mumble mumble borders? Worst of all: What if legions of reefer-addled burnouts begin causing havoc on the roads, by toking up and attempting to drive to Wendy’s?

According to a new study out of Ontario, the risk of that last apocalyptic scenario is all but zero. Based on over a decade of data, researchers found that marijuana-related crashes did increase after the country’s 2018 legalization — but from one negligible number to another. Ignore the framing from other outlets, the risks here are all but zero.

Based on the data from Ontario, researchers found a 475.3 percent rise in marijuana-related traffic accidents between 2010 and 2021. To be fair to the fear-mongering outlets, this is a big scary number that PTA types are going to love. But across more than a decade of traffic injuries — 947,604 in total — a mere 426 had any marijuana involvement. For the math nerds out there, that’s less than one half of one tenth of one percent.

The study breaks the data down into three sections, based on time: Pre-legalization, legalization with restrictions, and post-commercialization — the last of which, coincidentally, overlaps with the COVID-19 pandemic. The study mentions that the greatest increase in accidents came with commercialization, but we know reckless driving as a whole skyrocketed during that period. The study is even careful to say that cannabis-related crashes “may have” increased after commercialization, rather than making things definite — there are simply too many factors to consider.

To be clear, no one should be hotboxing their car en route to grab a four-for-four. If you have marijuana in your system, just stay home — get your snacks delivered, like a responsible adult. But to spin this study as a point against legalization is simply laughable, when the risks are so much lower than those of plain old alcohol. Legalize it.