Feb 7, 2023 - News

Study finds medical marijuana leads to lower insurance premiums

Illustration of cannabis and beer emoji smiling at each other.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

States with medical marijuana programs have lower insurance premiums than those that don't, according to a new University of Iowa study examining insurance premiums.

What they did: Cameron Ellis, a professor at the University of Iowa's College of Business, examined vehicle crash data between 2014 and 2019 by ZIP code.

  • In states with medical marijuana, insurance premiums dropped an average of $22 annually per driver.
  • The drops were most pronounced in ZIP codes near dispensaries and in areas with high rates of drunk driving prior to marijuana legalization.

How it works: In states with medical marijuana, people started switching from drinking alcohol to consuming cannabis instead, Ellis tells Axios. The different side effects of both substances have had major impacts on the road.

  • Drunk people may feel more emboldened to get behind the wheel. They're also likely at a bar or restaurant and need to get home.
  • Meanwhile, cannabis users are likely getting high at home. They're also more likely to feel paranoid or anxious about driving due to cannabis' side effects, Ellis says.

Between the lines: Stores in states that legalized marijuana saw a 12% drop in alcohol sales, according to a 2018 study.

The bottom line: Don't get behind the wheel if you're under any substance.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more