Marijuana Legalization And Traffic Accidents - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Marijuana Legalization And Traffic Accidents


The relationship between the use of drugs and motor vehicle collisions is something researchers realized long before marijuana use was legalized in Canada. Accident investigations revealed that 40 percent of fatal collisions involved at least one driver who tested positive for drugs. Surveys show that 43 percent of individuals who admit to using marijuana acknowledge doing so on a daily basis. Driving while impaired, whether by the consumption of drugs or alcohol, continues to be illegal in Ontario and all other provinces, but there is disagreement among experts about whether marijuana legalization will significantly affect accident rates and personal injuries.

Effects of marijuana use

Each person reacts differently when using marijuana. Common side effects associated with marijuana use are feelings of relaxation and euphoria, but other side effects could include:

  • Fatigue  and drowsiness
  • Slowed reactions
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory impairment
  • Anxiety or panic

A person using marijuana could experience a drop in blood pressure, which could cause fainting.

The effects on drivers of inhaling or ingesting marijuana could increase the risk of having an accident by decreasing an individual’s ability to quickly react to changing conditions on the road ahead of them. Impaired concentration could cause a driver to not pay attention to the road or to the speed at which their vehicle is travelling.

One recent study found that drivers who used marijuana before operating a vehicle had more difficulty noticing a person walking along the road than did drivers who had not consumed the drug. An interesting conclusion drawn by the study was that simple tasks associated with driving became difficult for a person impaired by marijuana once a distraction, such as seeing a bicyclist riding on the side of the road, was introduced.

Taking a look at the U.S. experience with marijuana

A Canadian study found no increase in accidents in states in the U.S. following their legalization of the recreational use of cannabis. The study did, however, find was an increase in positive blood tests for THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for producing mental and physical impairment, in drivers killed in accidents in states in which marijuana was legal.

Studies conducted in the U.S. came to a different conclusion. Collisions increased by six percent in Washington, Oregon and Colorado in comparison to neighboring states that continued to prohibit recreational use of marijuana. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board of a multi-vehicle accident that took the lives of 13 people recommended the need for an increase in measures to prevent accidents caused by drivers impaired by drugs after it concluded the use of marijuana by one of the drivers to be a contributing cause of the collision.

Dedicated Ontario personal injury lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond offer years of experience successfully handling compensation claims for individuals suffering injuries through the negligent and careless conduct of others. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, you should speak to one of our lawyers to learn more about your right to be compensated. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families.

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