How many car crashes and drop-outs

Estimate of how many additional students will drop out of school every year if Prop 203 passes.

According to one study from the American Journal of Public Health, teens who smoke marijuana once a month or more by age 14 have twice the rate of dropping out before finishing high school. Arizona has around 500,000 teenagers and, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 35,000 of them used marijuana over the past month.

The 2007-08 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that medical marijuana states had 30 percent more teenagers aged 12-17 using marijuana over the past month than non-medical marijuana states.  If 35,000 increases by 30 percent, that is an additional 10,500 teenagers using marijuana regularly.

So about 20 percent of the teen marijuana users are under 16. Twenty percent of 10,500 is 2100.

We already have a 32 percent drop-out rate. We do not know what percent of these are marijuana users. If they are all marijuana users, we have a drop out rate for marijuana users of 32 percent. If only half are marijuana users, then the drop out rate for marijuana users is 43 percent.  So to be conservative, we will use a drop-out rate for marijuana users of 32 percent, but it could easily be 40 percent.

So, the most conservative number is 32 percent of 2100, for an additional 672 students dropping out every year. At the very high end, 43 percent of 2100 is 903 additional students dropping out every year.

So it is reasonably conservative to estimate that if Proposition 203 becomes law, an extra 675 students in Arizona will drop out before finishing high school every year.

The population of Arizona is 6.4 million and the population of all 15 “medical” marijuana states plus Washington, D.C. is 89 million. So to estimate how many drop-outs “medical” marijuana causes every year in the United States, we can multiply: (89/6.4) x 672 = 9,345.         (89/6.4) x 903 = 12,557       Taking the most conservative numbers, “medical” marijuana laws probably cause, at the very least, an extra 9000 high school drop outs in the United States every year.

How many dropouts does marijuana cause in the United States?  A recent survey by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found that regular marijuana use (more than 20 times per month) among teenagers shot up 80 percent in the four years since 2008. According to the survey, there are now 1.5 million teens who use marijuana regularly. The U.S dropout rate is 28 percent. So  of these teens who smoke pot at least twenty times a month, 420,000 will drop out. Since the rate for pot-smokers is twice that  of non-users, at least half of these are caused by marijuana. So, roughly, at least 200,000 of today’s teenagers will dropout because of marijuana. Spread over ages 12 – 19, that means at least 25,000 kids are dropping out of school every year because of marijuana.

How many additional traffic fatalities will Prop 203 cause? Montana saw an extra 6 fatal car accidents caused by drivers with marijuana and no alcohol in their blood streams. This data was sent to me by a Montana narcotics officer. Arizona has 7 times the population of Montana, so that would translate into 42 extra fatal car accidents per year due to the medical marijuana law.

However, California saw an increase of 120 cannabis-caused fatal car accidents per year and has 6 times the population of Arizona, so that is only 20 extra highway deaths per year.

So a reasonable estimate is between 20-40 extra traffic deaths every year in Arizona if Proposition 203 becomes law.

Multiplying this again by the population in all 15 “medical” marijuana states plus the District of Columbia, we get (89/6.4) x 20 = 278 and (89/6.4) x 42= 584.  So, conservatively, it is probably correct to say that “medical” marijuana laws cause an additional 250-300 traffic fatalities in the United States every year.

The “Drugged Driving” short report released from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that, in 2002, between 10 and 18 percent of young drivers age 17 to 21 reported driving under the influence of an illicit drug during the past year. Driving-age teens (age 16-19) are also four times more likely to use marijuana than younger adolescents (age 12-15).