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Does Marijuana Use in Legal States Lead to Higher Car Accident Fatalities?

Posted in Blog on April 16, 2018

Ever since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, law enforcement authorities have been tracking the correlation (and potential causation) between car accidents and use of marijuana, either recreationally or medically. Up until recently, the number of auto accidents occurring in the United States was on the decline for more than nearly ten years. However, that number is steadily increasing across several states. Recent evidence shows that this increase could potentially be the result of medical and recreational marijuana legalization, now recently legalized in twenty-nine states (nine recreationally and medically in all twenty-nine). While no findings have solidly proven that marijuana is the cause of the increase in car accidents, some studies are suggesting it is.

According to the findings of a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2017, accident claims in legal states were three percent higher than in non-legal states between 2012 and 2016. Other studies conducted have reported on car accident fatalities (as opposed to collisions in general), and haven’t necessarily concluded that marijuana is the irrefutable culprit behind the increase in accidents. However, it seems likely enough that legalization of marijuana could be leading to car accidents that don’t prove to be fatal. For the concern to reach public health authorities and cause action, there must be conclusive evidence that statewide marijuana legalization inevitably leads to an increase car accident fatalities.  In fact, there is a bit of evidence made available recently that suggests that since some car accident fatalities are the result of people driving with serious medical problems, states where medical marijuana is legal and used to treat some of these illnesses see a decrease in car accident fatalities.

Despite these ultimately inconclusive and often opposing findings, car insurance rates have not directly increased due to marijuana legalization in applicable states. For example, Denver car insurance rates are high, but that isn’t necessarily because of marijuana-related collisions. Denver is a large and highly populous city, which is often the qualifier for high car insurance rates. However, it is likely that, with more conclusive accident causation evidence, that insurance rates will increase in states with legalized marijuana.

When driving in Colorado, or any other state in which the use of marijuana is legal, it is essential to be aware that there are drivers on the road who are using cannabis and may be under the influence of it while driving. Side effects from high-THC marijuana, depending on the dosage, can include (but are not limited to), dizziness, delayed response time or reflexes, sleepiness, lethargy, and impaired memory, all which can affect someone’s driving abilities. It is important to be aware of these symptoms. If you do use marijuana either recreationally or medically, having the awareness to make responsible decisions about operating a vehicle yourself when under the influence is paramount. Though we don’t ultimately know for certain whether or not marijuana use causes car accident fatalities, being aware of the symptoms of marijuana can affect driving decisions and the safety of our roads in general. For more Information visit: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.

Articles Used: https://hightimes.com/news/does-legalized-marijuana-result-in-increased-auto-accidents/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/26/what-marijuana-legalization-did-to-car-accident-rates/?utm_term=.ed65296ec338

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