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Does Legalizing Marijuana Increase the Number of Catastrophic Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents?

Male hands holding a steering wheel in a car with a cannabis joint between two fingers

The legalization of marijuana has many benefits, but there may be some unintended consequences, too.

Read on to learn whether the legalization of marijuana increases the number of catastrophic injuries endured in traffic accidents.

Cannabis is Different from Alcohol

Since the legalization of marijuana is a relatively new phenomenon, researchers have not had ample time and funding to study its impacts on drivers. However, there are a few studies out there detailing the impacts that cannabis has on drivers.

You may assume that consuming cannabis prior to driving is just as harmful as drinking alcohol and driving. But that’s not always the case.

The Data is Mixed

The Level of Driving Impairment from Cannabis

According to a study comparing the effects of alcohol with those of marijuana by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, weaving within the driving lane tends to increase when drivers are THC impaired. However, “Alcohol, but not marijuana, increased the number of times the car actually left the lane and the speed of weaving.”

An explanation for this from a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), is that cannabis users tend to overestimate their incapacity and might attempt to compensate by driving at slower speeds and leaving more space between vehicles.

Crash Prevalence

According to a study in The Journal of Law and Economics, traffic fatalities decreased between 8%-11% during the first year of cannabis legalization and continued to decrease for the next three years.

The same study alleges that “the reduction in fatalities is almost entirely attributable to a reduction in the number of accidents involving individuals with high blood alcohol content. The authors suggest that the most likely explanation is that medical marijuana is serving as an alcohol substitute.”

In addition, traffic deaths fell by 10.8% following the legalization of cannabis.

Catastrophic Accidents

While there are no available studies that specifically address the correlation between marijuana use and car accidents involving catastrophic injuries, we can assume from the accessible data that there is no strong relationship between cannabis legalization and an increase in catastrophic accidents.

We’re Here to Help

If you’ve sustained an injury due to the recklessness of another, you may be owed compensation. Our Rapid City car accident attorneys here at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP are highly skilled in the area of personal injury law and have helped many others just like you achieve justice. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your case right away.

Call our lawyers today at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form to see how we can help.