Insurance and Marijuana Use

An article written by Aaron Crowe from , that I found at delves into the issues of automobile insurance coverage and the use of marijuana. It discusses insurance company policy toward medical marijuana and sources a study into the effects medical marijuana have had on traffic fatalities. According to the article any drugged driving conviction or loss of license involving drugged driving will result in your insurance carrier canceling your policy. When your license is restored you would not be eligible for discounted insurance but instead be put in a pool for high risk insurance at near double discounted rates. Insurance companies have little if any tolerance for DUI convictions whether they are from alcohol or other drugs.

In another article from, Some life insurance policies will cover people who use marijuana (but not abuse) and cover them at a higher rate similar to how insurance companies charge higher premiums to those who use tobacco. I am assuming that the (but not abuse) clause would pertain to state legal medical marijuana use, but I have no way to confirm that. The article also stresses the need to be honest in the application process as the application becomes part of the policy and any dishonesty on the application constitutes fraud.

Interestingly the study cited from titled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption” by D. Mark Anderson and Daniel I. Rees reports that in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, traffic fatalities have decreased by almost 9%, marijuana use among people 12 to 17 years of age decreased even though overall marijuana use increased, and alcohol consumption overall decreased. The study suggests that marijuana is used as a substitute for alcohol consumption. The decrease in traffic fatalities may be the result of decreased alcohol consumption or it may be related to the fact that most people who consume alcohol do so away from home in bars and restaurants and then drive home, while most marijuana consumption is done in private and at home. Also cited in the study were references to driving studies that indicate marijuana users tend to compensate for impairment by slowing down and taking fewer risks while alcohol users tend to not be aware of their impairment and tend to drive faster and take more risks. Either way just the act of legalizing medical marijuana has reduced traffic fatalities (9%) at rates similar to raising the drinking age to 21 years (9%) or mandatory seat belt laws (8%). The results of reducing traffic fatalities associated with alcohol are even greater at a 12% reduction for (blood alcohol content above 0) and a 14% reduction for (blood alcohol content at .10 and above). This gives credence to the idea, alcohol and marijuana are substitutes for one another and that legalizing marijuana would result in lower alcohol consumption.

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Carpenter, Christopher. 2004. “How do Zero Tolerance Drunk Driving Laws Work?”


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Carpenter, Christopher and Mark Stehr. 2008. “The Effects of Mandatory Seatbelt Laws on

Seatbelt Use, Motor Vehicle Fatalities, and Crash-Related Injuries among Youths.”

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27: 642-662.

Randy Johnson