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What impact do recreational marijuana laws have on traffic fatality rates?

| Jun 16, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

California legalized the recreational use of marijuana with the passing of Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in Nov. 2016. Recreational marijuana usage has significantly increased throughout the state as a result of this.

Unfortunately, the use of marijuana, like alcohol, doesn’t just take place at home or in a controlled setting. Some motorists engage in such a practice operating a motor vehicle as well.

What impact has the legalization of recreational marijuana use had on accident rates?

Studies have had mixed results concerning whether an increase in recreational marijuana use results in more auto collisions. One study in Colorado revealed an elevated rate of auto deaths soon after the drug’s legalization. Another study in Washington state revealed the opposite. It showed accident rates were unaffected by the legalization of marijuana in the state.

Even given the divergent test results in Colorado and Washington, some researchers still believe that marijuana’s legalization may result in an increase of nearly 7,000 deaths annually.

Part of the uncertainty of whether the increase in marijuana sales correlates to an elevated car accident rate is that marijuana can remain in a person’s system for several days, while impairment can last just hours. Thus, the detection of marijuana in a person’s body at the time of an accident does not necessarily mean they were impaired when the crash occurred.

Researchers suggest that some individuals’ increased use of marijuana may increase or decrease a person’s use of alcohol and other drugs. Researchers point out that drugs may also impact people at different levels.

What to do if an intoxicated motorist struck you

If you have been injured or involved in an auto accident due to someone’s impairment from marijuana, you may be entitled to monetary damages. You may want to familiarize yourself with applicable state law to learn what your right to compensation is in your case.

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