Research shows car crashes do not increase during 420 despite previous claims

Published Apr 2, 2019 01:14 p.m. ET

It’s almost that time of year again, and all the 420 festivals are right around the corner with less than a month left to prepare. For marijuana user’s this is an exciting time filled with cannabis friendly events. Unfortunately, not everyone is so excited for April 20th to arrive as many have voiced concerns over the gatherings that tend to take place in public areas such as parks that are frequently visited by families with young children. Some cannabis research in the past was presented as evidence against the idea of hosting cannabis-focused events that encourage spectators to engage in activities like smoking marijuana and consuming edibles.

Prior claims

Cannabis researchers claimed that after an in-depth investigation into the number of car crashes that happen on 420, they noticed a 12% increase in fatalities that took place between 1975 and 2016 on April 20th. The problem it seems is that they were only comparing the day against other days in the week. What they should have been doing was looking at the information from a wider angle to see if the increase may have been part of a normal trend in accidents or affected by any other causes such as other large-scale events or influences that might be responsible.

New cannabis research


On January 20th the results of cannabis research that was conducted by McGill University was released which seems to show little to no difference. Researchers looked at the very same information that was used in the earlier study. The most significant difference was the way that they decided to look at it. There were three separate ways this theory was testedfor validity. The first focused on the information from the previous research on traffic accidents that occurred on 420 and compared those numbers with one week before and one week after other large holidays like Christmas. The second looked at the difference between the original information and a seven-day cycle that started two weeks before and two weeks after April 20th. The last section that was investigated was the difference between April 20th and every other day of the year. What they found was that marijuana use while behind the wheel did not affect the ultimate number of accidents nearly as much as originally proposed. Not only that, but also that the data used by the earliest researchers showed that the number of crashes that happened was right in line with the normal cycle of ups and downs that are seen in regular everyday records. They did, however, discover a significant hike in the number of fatal accidents on Christmas, New Year’s Day, and July 4.


It appears that marijuana use that is associated with cannabis events does not adversely impact the number of accidents or fatalities at all. Hopefully will a bit more research and education the non-smoking public should eventually relax their stance on the potential of cannabis events that may encourage smoking marijuana coming to their area. In the meantime, if you ever hear someone refer to the earlier study as a reason not to allow marijuana use, point out the real statistics that show 420 is no different than any other day on the roads. We should all be allowed to let loose sometimes regardless of our legal substance of choice, and until these misconceptions are stopped there will be plenty more backlash as the wildly popular event date draws nearer each year.



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