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States with legal marijuana have increase in car accidents

California recreational use of marijuana was legalized in the fall of 2016. While that was viewed as a victory for those who believe its use to be harmless and up to the individual, provided they are of legal age, there were still concerns that it could lead to other issues. Law enforcement made certain to emphasize that a car accident while high on marijuana would be viewed similarly as a drunk driving accident. This matter was studied in the context of other states that legalized marijuana, and it was found that there has been a rise in crashes in those states.

The Highway Loss Data Institute found that Washington, Colorado and Oregon had a rise of 3 percent. The study does not say that the rise in accidents was linked to drivers who used marijuana. It looked at the fatality statistics on highways in these states.

A comparison was done between the number of claims for a car accident before and after the drug was legalized in those states versus comparable states where it remains illegal. The number of accidents in Colorado rose by 16 percent; in Washington, by 6.2 percent; and in Oregon, 4.5 percent.

This is important because the highest increase was in Colorado where the sale and use of the drug has been legal the longest. Driving under the influence is a problem that could increase with the legalization of marijuana. There is no immediate method of testing akin to a field sobriety test for alcohol to determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana after a traffic stop.

When there is a car accident for any reason, those who were involved or lost a loved one need to understand the importance of a full accident investigation to find out how and why it happened. There can be lost wages, medical treatment for serious injuries, the need to move on emotionally and financially if there was the loss of a loved one, and more. If the accident happened because of a person who was high on marijuana, this can be an important factor in a case. Discussing the possibility of litigation with an attorney experienced in car accidents can help with pursuing compensation.

Source:, "Auto crashes are on the rise in marijuana states," Phil LeBeau, June 22, 2017

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