Last month, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills making it official: marijuana will soon be growing legally in the gardens of the Garden State for anyone over 21 to enjoy. The bills follow through on a marijuana legalization ballot initiative that New Jerseyans approved overwhelmingly last year. New Jersey is now one of a dozen states, plus the District of Columbia, which have let loose the magic dragon — and more states, like Virginia, may be on the way.
Since 2012, 11 states have legalized marijuana use for adults — which voters nationwide are considering on their ballots this year. Researchers are just beginning to understand the effects of those laws.
Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize the drug, and California, the most populous state in the nation, followed them.
Among the most pointed concerns with legalization are whether it has caused more young people to use the drug and whether more people are dying in auto crashes caused by impaired drivers.
Data show little change in either area.
Legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes isn’t associated with an uptick in traffic fatalities, according to a new study released this month.
Kansas State University graduate student Andrew Young looked at data on average traffic fatalities over 23 years and used two models to assess the impact of cannabis reform on road safety.