States With Legalized Recreational Marijuana Use Saw An Uptick In Reported Collisions

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute conducted two studies which found an in increase in collision claims in four states following the start of the legalization of recreational marijuana.  “Despite the difficulty of isolating the specific effects of marijuana impairment on crash risk, the evidence is growing that legalizing its use increases crashes,” IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey said in a statement.

The operation of a vehicle under the influence of marijuana is illegal in all 50 states. This remains the case even after certain states made the move to legalize recreational marijuana use. However, accurately testing and determining marijuana impairment has been challenging for professionals. One study by safety experts from the American Automobile Association found no scientific evidence to support a specific standard level at which drivers may be considered impaired.  The study showed an individual with high THC levels may not be impaired while others with low levels could be considered impaired.

It is difficult to determine whether or not marijuana is a key factor in a given car accident. The reason for that being, there are currently no accurate methods to determine whether the span of the use of the drug, was actually relevant to a given accident. Current tests for marijuana can be positive even weeks after use, making it possible that the last use of the drug had no relevant effect on an individual’s accident. With that being said, solely looking at the data supporting the increase in accidents since the legalization of recreational cannabis, it’s impossible to ignore the possibility the legalization of recreational marijuana may potentially lead to an increase in automobile accidents.

Colorado is the longest state to have legalized recreational marijuana use, which in turn saw the state have the highest increase in reported collisions compared to other states with legalized recreational cannabis use. Colorado saw an increase of 16 percent for reported collisions, the highest. Oregon, the newest state to legalize the drug in 2017, saw the lowest increase in collisions of the legalized states totaling 4.5 percent.

Massachusetts has joined one of many states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. While it remains to be seen if there will in fact be an increase of collisions resulting from this change, accidents still happen. In the event you or someone you love has been injured in an accident it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. Skilled Plymouth County and South Shore injury lawyer, Michael S. Mehrmann, has spent many years effectively representing people from across Plymouth County, including Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke and Duxbury in their injury cases.