The back-and-forth about marijuana legalization, in states where it becomes a cause, tends to focus on its positive and negative physical effects for people who use. But whether or not it’s healthy to be high, it’s undeniably a cause for concern when marijuana smokers hit the roads. Just like alcohol, pot can cause impairment in perception and reduced response time, but smoking and driving (as of yet) doesn’t have the same stigma as driving drunk. What can we expect in California, as of pot’s legalization in 2018, when we’re sharing the roads with our friends who may have been sharing a joint?
- It’s likely that there will be a slight increase in traffic accidents overall. In states that have recently legalized pot (Colorado, Washington, Oregon), it’s been reported that accident claims went up an average of about 3 percent. Not huge, but measurable.
- However, crash fatalities in states that legalized marijuana did not show a statistically significant increase. The increase in collisions that may be attributed to the legal use of pot seem to be primarily smaller altercations that don’t result in deaths.
- Crash fatalities in California have risen in recent years and may continue to rise, but authorities actually attribute this to an improving economy. Ken Kolosh, manager of the National Safety Council’s Statistics Department, says that job creation does have one unfortunate side effect: more crashes from more people being out on the roads.
- Weed will be hard to regulate on the roads because its effects are still a bit tough to pin down. In Colorado, authorities are having difficulty with marijuana regulation in reference to driving because weed is not nearly as well understood as alcohol, and it’s often altered and “enhanced” with other chemicals.
In California’s legalization experiment, it’s still early days, and too soon to tell what the real immediate or lasting effects of this legislation will be. But one thing is for certain: driving under the influence of any substance is never a good idea. Exercise caution if you’re using and don’t get behind the wheel when you still feel like you’re floating and time is really slow.
And if you’ve unfortunately experienced an accident as a result of someone else’s bad choice in that regard, know that you have options. Make sure you get in touch with your insurance provider and seek out a qualified law firm to explore your legal options. Whether you’re certain you have cause or not, please contact us or give us a call at 800.676.5295 and we’ll be glad to talk you through. We offer a free consultation to new clients to answer any questions and help them determine their options going forward.