Increase in Car Accidents Linked to the Legalization of Marijuana

The legal use of recreational and medical marijuana is one of the country’s most pressing social and political issues. As of 2019, 10 states have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 21, while 33 states currently allow patients to use marijuana specifically for medicinal purposes.

Florida has an interesting, albeit recent, history when it comes to the legalization of medical marijuana. After the “Charlotte’s Web” Act passed in 2014, patients with serious medical conditions – such as cancer and epilepsy – could use marijuana with low THC levels as a treatment option. In the last couple years, the Right to Try Act and the Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative have further expanded what conditions are eligible for cannabis treatments.

According to the PEW Research Center, approximately 62% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Statistically, it’s likely that we’ll see more states legalize the use of recreational cannabis products in the coming years. However, many Florida lawmakers and law enforcement officials are concerned that the expanding availability of cannabis products may lead to an increase in automobile accidents.

In “Legalized Marijuana Linked to a Sharp Rise in Car Crashes,” Paul A. Eisenstein, a writer for NBC News, claims that “There has been an increase by up to 6 percent in the number of highway crashes in four of the states where the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized…The new reports do not prove there’s a direct risk caused by the use of marijuana among motorists, but they raise caution flags.” According to Eisenstein, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) assessed highway crash data, police reports, and insurance claims from Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington to find a correlation between recreational marijuana use and the 5-6% increase of car accidents in each state. The IIHs believes there is a link, especially after comparing traffic fatality statistics from neighboring states. Concerningly, the IIH’s street-side study of marijuana use revealed that “While those under the influence of alcohol tend to either be driving alone or with other adults, about 14 percent of those confirmed to be using pot had a child in their vehicle. That reflects…that marijuana use isn’t confined to evenings and other times when adults are more likely to drink – and abuse – alcohol.”

However, Kevin Kelleher, of FORTUNE, points out in “States with Legal Marijuana Have a Higher Rate of Car Accidents, Study Says,” that aside from the IIHS study, multiple organizations have also completed studies researching the connection between traffic accidents and legal cannabis use, only to reach far more inconclusive results. For example, in 2017, the American Journal of Public Health reviewed reports and statistics from Colorado and Washington, only to claim that there is “no significant association” between marijuana legalization and traffic fatality rates.

Injured in a Car Accident? Retain Experienced Legal Representation

Despite ongoing research, no one can truly estimate how medical and/or recreational marijuana will impact Florida traffic accidents rates. Ideally, anyone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol should not be operating a vehicle. However, it’s difficult for Florida lawmakers to calculate safe THC levels because it tends to build up in a person’s system when used on a regular basis. Because it’s a legal medical treatment option, law enforcement officials can’t prevent residents from utilizing their marijuana prescriptions.

Even so, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s imperative that you contact a qualified legal representative as soon as possible. Traffic collisions frequently lead to serious injuries and medical conditions that require expensive treatments and rehabilitative services. At Gerber Law, we can research if the negligent driver was abusing their prescription or illegally using marijuana on a recreational-basis. Our Sarasota car accident attorney is not afraid to battle for our clients both in and out of the courtroom. By utilizing customized litigation solutions and innovative negotiation tactics, we can secure a positive case result that reflects your personal, financial, and legal objectives.

Contact Gerber Law at (866) 233-4529 to schedule a consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay any legal fees unless we secure compensation on your behalf.

Categories: Auto Accidents