Is Marijuana Legalization Responsible For Increase In Car Accidents In California?

November 29, 2018
On behalf of The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg Posted in Car Accident

With marijuana legalization slowly but steadily taking over the nation, people are becoming concerned about one particular side effect of making recreational sales of marijuana legal in the United States: a possible increase in car accidents.

Wait, is marijuana legalization linked to an increase in car accidents in California and other states that have legalized the medicinal use of the drug? “There might be a link,” says our car accident lawyer elite Los Angeles from Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg.

In fact, this past midterm election earlier this month, several states have included ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Now that the recreational use of marijuana has been legal in California for almost 11 months, it is time to evaluate the effects of marijuana> on society, and whether marijuana legalization increases the number of car accidents.

More drivers under the influence of weed after marijuana legalization

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently revealed that marijuana use among drivers increased by more than 13 percent over the past 12 months. Another, even more disturbing, study revealed that THC (the main mind-altering ingredient found in cannabis) was the most commonly detected intoxicant among drivers in the nation. “Why disturbing?” you might ask. You see, the effects of marijuana on the driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle are similar to those of alcohol.

Do the math yourself. With more states legalizing weed, and marijuana sales skyrocketing all across the nation, the number of drivers under the influence of cannabis will be rising for years to come.

More car accident insurance claims after the legalization of weed

Does it mean that our roads are becoming less safe? “It might,” says our experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles. Even more interestingly, the number of car accident-related insurance claims in the states that legalized marijuana increased following the legalization. These were the findings of a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

The study showed that car accident insurance claims in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon increased by nearly 3 percent following legalization in those states.

The legal driving limit for THC (marijuana) in California

Multiple studies have shown that drivers with THC in their system were nearly twice as likely to cause a fatal car crash than drivers who were not under the influence of marijuana or other drugs or alcohol. However, here’s where it gets complicated. THC has the ability to remain in the bloodstream for weeks after use. Also, it is not uncommon for drivers who have THC in their system to be under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol, which makes it more difficult to evaluate the risks associated with operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis.

Okay, but how much weed is too much when it comes to operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana? In California, there is no legal driving limit for THC in the system. But in no way does it mean that you can get away with smoking a barrel full of weed. If a police officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs, he or she can conduct a field sobriety test to determine the presence of marijuana.

In other states, there is a limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. However, critics say that this method of calculating the presence of THC in one’s system and the level of impairment is inaccurate because marijuana is not metabolized the same way as alcohol.

Effects of marijuana on driving ability

If you have ever used marijuana, you are probably familiar with its effects. For those not familiar with the effects of weed, here’s how cannabis can affect your ability to operate a vehicle:

  • Slower reaction time;
  • Poor judgment;
  • Impaired decision-making ability;
  • Impaired memory and problem-solving ability; and
  • Many more.

If you have been in a car accident involving a driver under the influence of marijuana, do not hesitate to speak to our skilled attorney from the Law Office of Howard Craig Kornberg. Call our offices at 310-997-0904 today.


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