Car Accidents- Can Marijuana be the Blame?

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stop lightIt is no question that marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado. What still seems to be up for debate, though, is marijuana’s influence on driving ability. Does marijuana use increase the chance of a car accident or doesn’t it?

The truth is, we don’t actually know the answer.

The answer to this is unknown due to inconsistent statistics and conflicting reports.  According to a recent article in the Washington Post, we cannot accurately decipher whether marijuana use is the cause of a car accident because tests do not show inebriation, just the metabolites. Metabolites will be in the body for days after someone uses the drug. 

This means that if a driver has been in a car accident and the test shows usage, there is not a way to determine how recent the use was.  While marijuana usage is noted for cases, this does not mean it can be pinpointed as the cause.

Sparking this debate, and prompting further research, are crashes like the Denver car accident in late July. A driver ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle, causing six injuries. Upon further investigation, they found that the driver had used marijuana. In fact, she was admittedly high at the time of the crash.  She had also had one beer that evening.

Can we blame marijuana for the accident? With other circumstances surrounding the crash, like as in many other accidents, it is quite cloudy.

All we know for sure, due to research by the University of Colorado Denver, is that since it became legal to sell marijuana, the amount of drivers involved in deadly car and motorcycle accidents that also test positive for marijuana usage has increased quite drastically. According to their research, around four percent of crashes involved a marijuana-using driver. In 2011, ten percent did. The researchers noted that the largest jump occurred post-legalization in 2009.

Meanwhile, during this time period, there was not a significant change in alcohol-impaired drivers.

As car accident injury attorneys at Sears and Associates, P.C., we will be watching this issue closely as it affects the safety of drivers and passengers. Regardless of the lack of conclusion regarding this matter, strive to make safe decisions for both you and your family members.

Photo Credit: kennymatic via Compfight cc

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About Lance Sears

Lance has over thirty five years of trial experience. In 2003, Mr. Sears was named a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers (ISOB), a prestigious international organization with only approximately 600 members throughout the English-speaking world. Lance Sear's Google+ Profile

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