Fatal vehicle crashes on American roadways are 12% higher right after 4:20 pm, every April 20, than on any other average day that’s not related to the marijuana culture – according to data obtained and exposed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

John Staples, of the University of British Columbia, and Donald Redelmeier, of the University of Toronto, both physicians, claimed that while the percentage does not seem as much, it has a significant and similar magnitude to the risks addressed on Super Bowl Sundays – Los Angeles Times reported.

Super Bowl football fans usually drink wine, beers or cocktails after the event, and risk the lives of others by driving under the influence of alcohol. However, pot users do not stay behind and are also involved in fatal crashes.

Unfortunately, the extra deaths occur during the non-official ceremony despite the fact that the most of the Americans do not celebrate 4/20, according to the conclusions made by Staples and Redelmeier. This leads to an expected peak among the popularity of the non-official holiday, just as the number of fatal traffic accidents.

The experts used control periods, which are ordinary days used for comparison. They analyzed 7 hours and 40 minutes each on April 13 and April 27, during 25 years. The physicians reckoned 2,453 drivers involved in fatal car accidents during that period, with 6.4 fatal crashes per hour.

The period of 7 hours and 40 minutes was also analyzed on every April 20 throughout the same 25 years. A total of 1,369 drivers involved in fatal car crashes occurred between 4:20 pm and 11:59 pm. Thus, the estimated fatal motor vehicle accidents per hour increased to 7.1.

Stoned drivers just as dangerous as drunk drivers, Every April 20 at 4:20 pm, Legal marijuana in the US
Dozens of people have accidents while driving under the marijuana effects. Image credit: Getty

The difference may not seem huge, but it is significant concerning statistics since it was, according to Staples and Redelmeier, too large to be a coincidence.

The study also showed that young drivers, about the 20 years old or less, had a higher risk of facing a fatal motor vehicle crash during April 20. However, although these drivers increased their accidents a 33% more, drivers between 21 to 30 raised their statistics approximately to about 15%.

Additionally, the number of men involved in fatal car accidents was three times more than the women’s. The risk increased for both sexes on similar magnitudes during April 20.

During weekends, an 8% peak in fatal motor vehicle crashes was associated with the 4/20 holiday. When the celebration occurred between a Monday and a Thursday, the numbers raised to a 15% more.

Sadly, Stapler and Redelmeier concluded that the marijuana-related holiday becomes deadlier over time. They claimed that the number of fatal car accidents during the April 20s between 1992 and 2003, compared to regular days, increased about 6%. Between 2004 and 2016, the number of fatal crashes jumped to about a 17%.

LA Times refers to Staples and Redelmeier’s opinion when they state:

“Legislators and voters should keep this in mind as they consider new laws that would make marijuana more freely available 365 days a year. At the very least, the pair wrote, policymakers should consider ‘strategies to curtail drugged driving’.”

The Marijuana Holiday

April 20 became an international “counterculture holiday” where people meet to celebrate and consume cannabis. Many believe this has a political nature, supporting legalization of the drug. The celebration is thought to persist, even if marijuana consumption is legalized because it would represent a statement of conscience to the recognition of acceptance.

Stoned drivers just as dangerous as drunk drivers, Every April 20 at 4:20 pm, Legal marijuana in the US
The meaning of 4/20 is today known all across the world. Image credit: Getty

The holiday was popularized by High Times in 1991. Since then, thousands of worldwide citizens celebrate April 20. It was created in 1971 by five San Rafael High School attendants, who claimed 420 was a secret keyword. They used to meet at 4:20 pm and search for pot in a forest that was near to the school.

According to an article depicting the story of the holiday released by CNBC, the spreading of the term began, as the narration claims, when:

“A brother of one of the Waldos [how the five students called themselves since they hung out next to the school’s wall] was a close friend of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, as Lesh once confirmed in an interview with the Huffington Post. The Waldos began hanging out in the band’s circle, and the slang spread.”

Legalization of a culture

Stoned drivers just as dangerous as drunk drivers, Every April 20 at 4:20 pm, Legal marijuana in the US
Recreational cannabis is legal only in 9 US states. Image credit: Getty

In the US, using and possessing marijuana is illegal under federal laws by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, at the state level, policies regarding recreational and medical use are diverse, creating a conflict with said federal laws.

The medical use of cannabis is legal in 29 states, while the recreational pot is only legal in 9.

The states that legalized recreational use of marijuana are, so far, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. The number of states that decriminalized the drug is 13, besides the US Virgin Islands.

Source: CBS News