How Past Marijuana Use Might Impact Personal Injury Claims
  • Tuesday, 22 March 2022

How Past Marijuana Use Might Impact Personal Injury Claims

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Canada, provided you are over 18. However, similar to alcohol, marijuana use can significantly impair your judgement and the ability to react. For these reasons, the Canadian government discourages anyone who has recently used marijuana, or other cannabis-related products, from getting behind the wheel.

If you sustain injuries in a negligent motor vehicle accident, you have a right to claim compensation. However, if you use marijuana daily, have used it within 24 hours of the accident, or have a record of violating drug laws, you might have trouble proving that the other party was at fault. In other words, marijuana and personal injury claims do not mix.

Reasons Past Marijuana Use May Affect Your Claims

While you might argue that there is no evidence to suggest that part marijuana use results in long-term impairment, you would be incorrect, as the opposite is true.

In fact, studies suggest that frequent and long-term use of cannabis can affect a developing brain. Young adults regularly using marijuana are more likely to have mental health issues, which might be another argument against you if you claim damages for emotional pain and suffering.

Lawyers for the insurance company and the other party will do their best to blame you because you were under the influence of marijuana. An experienced Diamond & Diamond personal injury lawyer might be able to counteract these tactics if you consult with one early enough.

How Marijuana Use Can Affect Your Health

While there is no consensus on the effects of marijuana, multiple studies strongly indicate that limiting cannabis use, even its medicinal uses, would be prudent. Among the possible short-term effects of marijuana include:

  • Psychosis and paranoia in high doses
  • Short-term memory impairment, affecting a user’s ability to learn and retain information
  • Decreased motor coordination and reaction times, possibly impairing driving skills
  • Impaired judgment and reduced inhibitions, perhaps leading to risky sexual behaviour

The effects of heavy or long-term use are the following:

  • Addiction (up to 50% for daily users, 17% for people who started marijuana use in adolescence)
  • A decline in neuropsychological and cognitive functioning, particularly in younger users
  • Higher likelihood of poor educational outcomes
  • Decreased life satisfaction
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia for users with a predisposition

What You Should Know About the Legalisation of Cannabis in Canada

Though the use of medical marijuana to treat anxiety exploded during the pandemic, recreational use became legal on 17 October 2018. Its use, however, is subject to restrictions embodied in the Cannabis Act, including, but not limited to, age and possession limits.

According to the federal government, you must be 18-years or older to legally use cannabis products. However, Ontario cannabis laws require that the user must be 19-years-old or above.

In Ontario, the maximum amount of dried cannabis a person can have in public is 30 grams. For other cannabis products, it’s 15 grams for edibles, 70 grams for liquid products, 0.25 grams for solid or liquid concentrates, and one plant seed. While these are federal limits, Ontario’s restrictions are the same and, therefore, you should take note of these numbers.

Medical marijuana laws, however, are different. The mandate to authorise the production of medical marijuana lies with the federal government. Therefore, you can only buy medical cannabis from a producer with a federal licence, by written order, or by phone to be delivered by secure mail.

Persons that violate the restrictions and limits of the federal Cannabis Act and provincial laws risk criminal penalties of up to 14 years in prison. The penalties for driving under the influence of legal marijuana are equivalent to driving under the influence of other drugs. In Ontario, penalties for cannabis-impaired driving may include one or more of the following:

  • Licence suspension
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Fines
  • Criminal record
  • Jail time

Personal Injury Cases and Past Marijuana Use: What Can Your Lawyer Do?

Your past marijuana use in a personal injury case is likely to be challenging for inexperienced lawyers, especially if it’s a fatal accident. Marijuana might stay in your system for weeks and, therefore, a positive drug test for it might lead some to believe that you were impaired at the time of the accident.

The personal injury lawyers of Diamond & Diamond understand it is not that simple. They have handled numerous complex cases and are unlikely to be rattled by situations brought on by harmful marijuana use.

Despite a positive test result for cannabis use, they can obtain expert testimony to confirm that the amount of the drug in your system was insignificant and unlikely to impair your ability to avoid risky situations, such as car accidents, slips and falls, or work-related injuries. The point is to show that you were not responsible in any way for the accident and that the marijuana in your system did not contribute to the crash.

If you are a regular user of medical marijuana, your lawyer might argue that the anti-anxiety or putative analgesic effects make you more situationally aware and alert. When necessary, your lawyer can also gather and present evidence to demonstrate that the injuries you sustained to your brain were caused by the accident and not because of marijuana use.

Your lawyer can help you obtain personal injury compensation for the injuries you suffered in a negligent car accident or other injury-causing events. However, it is essential not to disclose any information about your past marijuana use without consulting your lawyer from Diamond Law, as that can make a challenging case impossible to win.

The goal isn’t to withhold information that is otherwise fatal to your personal injury claim. However, it’s just that your lawyer can present the facts in a way that doesn’t harm your case or your chances of getting just compensation for your injuries. You need to trust your lawyer to act in your best interests.

Did you know?

Recreational use of marijuana was legalised in Canada in October of 2018, making it the second country worldwide to do so? The first was Uruguay, legalising recreational marijuana in 2013.

 

Why You Should Inform Your Lawyer of Past Marijuana Use

You might think that no one will find out that you use marijuana and, therefore, you don’t even tell your lawyer about it. However, you shouldn’t be so naive, especially if your medical records indicate that you regularly use marijuana for medicinal purposes or if you have citations for marijuana use. Insurance companies are very thorough in investigating claims, which means not being honest about marijuana use isn’t a good idea.

Not telling your lawyer is perhaps the worst decision. You need to be completely transparent with your lawyer about past marijuana use and any other pertinent information that might affect your personal injury claim. Full disclosure will help your lawyer cover all the bases, including arguments and counterarguments about the role that influence of marijuana played in the accident.  

Need Help With Your Personal Injury Claims? Contact Diamond Law Today.

Marijuana use is legal in Ontario. However, studies about its short and long-term effects are inconclusive, which means that this can work in your favour in a personal injury claim provided you have the right lawyer.

If you are a marijuana user and sustained severe or catastrophic injuries in a negligent accident in Ontario, you must immediately contact a reputable personal injury firm. Diamond Law has the best lawyers in Toronto to handle the most complex cases because of their depth of knowledge and experience. Proving liability in cases involving past marijuana use is tricky, so you can’t afford to choose the wrong lawyers.

Get the legal representation for your personal injury claim in Ontario and other areas in Canada by calling 1-800-567-HURT. Schedule a free case evaluation to help us find the best way to get you compensation for your injuries.

Don’t let past marijuana use keep you from getting compensation for your injuries in a negligent accident. Get Diamond & Diamond Lawyers to fight for your rights.

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