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Has Legalization Led to a Rise in Marijuana-Related Car Accidents? A New Study Says “Yes” 

According to a report from CNN, a recent study has linked the legalization of marijuana and cannabis-related products to a rise in drugged driving motor vehicle collisions. The study—which was limited to reviewing provinces in Canada—found a dramatic increase in marijuana-related traffic collisions over the last decade. Within this article, our Stockton car accident attorney provides an overview of the findings in the study, the objections raised by an advocacy group, and the steps that you should take if you are hurt in a drugged driving crash in California. 

The Study: Marijuana Legalization Contributed to Rise in Drugged Driving Crashes in Canada

Is marijuana legalization leading to a rise in marijuana-related traffic accidents that require emergency medical room treatment? A new study published in the academic journal JAMA Network Open says the answer is “yes”—at least as it pertains to Canadian roadways. Researchers found that there was a 475 percent increase in the number of serious marijuana crashes in Canada between 2010 and 2021. The number of serious marijuana crashes reportedly spiked following the country’s nationwide legalization of recreational use for adults in 2018. 

Notably, the study also found that accidents involving cannabis-impaired drivers resulted in a higher percentage of intensive care admissions compared to accidents not involving drug or alcohol impairment. Researchers emphasized their belief that this is a public safety problem that is not confined to Canada. They argue that similar effects are likely to be prevalent in areas where recreational cannabis use has been legalized, including in U.S. states, such as California. 

Drivers Impaired By Marijuana Pose a Serious Health and Safety Risk On Our Roads

There is an all-too-common misconception that cannabis is a ‘natural’ and, as such, harmless substance. However, that is simply not the case for the purposes of operating a motor vehicle. The THC content in marijuana affects psychomotor skills essential for driving, such as multitasking, lane tracking, and cognitive functions. 

Driving while under the influence of marijuana or a cannabis-related is unlawful in California. Not only is it a criminal act, it is negligent driving. High drivers put themselves, their passengers, and other people in harm’s way. They can be held legally responsible for the damages that occur in a collision. 

The Counter: U.S. Data Shows that Legalization is Not Related to Drugged Driving Crashes

While there is absolutely no doubt that drugged driving is dangerous driving, there is some dispute as to whether or not marijuana legalization has actually contributed to a rise in marijuana-related motor vehicle collisions. The advocacy group the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) put out a rebuttal to the study published in JAMA Network Open. According to NORML, a study by researchers affiliated with Quartz Advisors analyzed motor vehicle accident trends in states where marijuana is legalized versus control states. 

The researchers in this study determined that overall traffic fatalities fell in states following their legalization policies, whereas the control group (non-legalization states) actually saw an increase in traffic deaths. With this background information in mind, the researchers for this study concluded that legal marijuana did not negatively impact traffic safety in the assessed states. Of course, that does not mean drugged driving is safe. Quite the contrary, if NORML’s argument is true, it simply means that legalization does not contribute to an increase in the rate of drugged driving. 

Note: NORML is a public interest group that supports the legalization of recreational marijuana. 

What to Do After a Suspected Drugged Driving Crash in Stockton, California

Hurt in a motor vehicle crash that you suspect was caused by marijuana intoxication or another type of drugged driving in Stockton or elsewhere in San Joaquin County? It is imperative that you take proactive measures to protect your safety and your legal rights. Here are some of the key steps to take after a drugged driving crash in California:   

  1. Stop Your Vehicle and Call the Police: California law requires all parties to a collision to stop their vehicle and remain at the scene. If you suspect the other driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is especially important that you report the crash to law enforcement, such as the Stockton Police Department. 
  2. Get Medical Care for Any Injuries: Your health should be your utmost priority. Seek immediate medical attention after a drugged driving crash in Stockton. Adrenaline may mask the pain initially—but the underlying symptoms can still manifest soon after. You need to see a doctor to be eligible to bring a car accident injury claim in California. 
  3. Carefully Document the Collision: Every motor vehicle crash in Stockton should be thoroughly investigated—especially if drugged driving is suspected. Collect as much information as possible from the crash scene. Photographs, witness statements, and police reports can all be relevant. 
  4. Speak to a Lawyer Before an Insurer: Insurance companies are not on your side—even in serious cases, such as drugged driving accident claims. Before you agree to provide any recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. A top-tier Stockton car accident lawyer with experience having drugged driving crash claims can protect your rights and interests. 

Drugged driving accident claims are complicated. You do not have to go it alone. At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we invest the time and resources to help injured victims get justice. Our Stockton auto accident injury lawyers help drugged driving accident victims secure compensation for vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of damages. 

Contact Our Stockton, CA Auto Accident Attorney Today

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton car accident attorneys are aggressive, effective, and solutions-forward advocates for the people who need help the most. If you or your family member suffered a serious injury in a drugged driving crash, please do not hesitate to contact us today for your free, no obligation consultation. With an office in Stockton, we handle drugged driving accident claims in San Joaquin County and all throughout the wider region in Central California.