New studies show car accidents in four of the states where marijuana was legalized for recreational use have seen a roughly 6 percent increase in car accidents. According to an NBC news report, the new reports don’t prove direct causation when it comes to weed and crashes. But they do raise red flags, especially because there is still no easy method to test drivers who may be under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
So far, 30 states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes with Oklahoma being the most recent to join the list. Nine states and the District of Columbia have now made it legal to use pot for recreational purposes. With polls showing increasing support for legalization, more states are set to follow.
What the Study Shows
This is the second year in a row when the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has found an upward trend in the number of car accidents in states where recreational marijuana is legal. A year ago, IIHS looked at three states – Colorado, Oregon and Washington. This year, it added Nevada to the list. The study examined police reports and insurance claims and found that crashes rose between 5.2 percent and 6 percent in states with legalized recreational marijuana compared to neighboring states where such use remained illegal.
The study also disturbingly found that while most people driving under the influence of alcohol were alone in their vehicles, 14 percent of those confirmed to be using pot had a child in their vehicle, which researchers say, shows that marijuana use is not confined to evenings and other times when adults are more likely to consume alcohol. Researchers say while there is a “correlation” reflecting the fact the crashes rose when pot became legal, there is no proof of “causation,” which means there is no direct link to the increased number of car accidents and legalized pot.
It is important for drivers to remember that while using marijuana for recreational purposes is legal in California, it is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana and other drugs. Drugged drivers who cause accidents can also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses they cause. An experienced California DUI victims’ lawyer can help injured victims and their families seek justice and fair compensation for their losses.