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Will recreational marijuana legalization lead to more crashes in Arizona?

At least 60% of Arizona voters placed their stamp of approval on Proposition 207, also known as the Smart and Safe Act, during the election last November. Their votes made recreational marijuana use legal in Arizona earlier this year. 

Arizona isn’t the first state to relax its marijuana laws in recent years. There’s been an uptick in the use of this drug since its legalization in different states. Unfortunately, consumers’ use of marijuana, like alcohol, doesn’t just occur at home or in a controlled setting. It often happens before or during a motorist’s operation of their car, giving way to potentially deadly consequences.

What impact does marijuana consumption have on crash rates?

Researchers’ conclusions about the impact the drug has on motor vehicle accident rates vary. Their studies show that there was an uptick in fatal auto accidents soon after marijuana’s legalization in Colorado. Car crash deaths remained unaffected in Washington state once legalization occurred there, though. 

The best estimate that researchers were ultimately able to come up with is that the legalization of recreational marijuana results in an increase of 7,000 deaths each year nationwide. 

Why is it challenging to determine marijuana’s impact on crash rates?

There’s at least one reason why researchers have difficulty determining what impact marijuana has on crash rates. The drug remains in a user’s system for multiple days following their consumption of it. A motorist may test positive for drugs in their system despite not having consumed marijuana for some time beforehand. 

Researchers also find it challenging to attribute crashes solely to marijuana’s legalization since motorists may consume alcohol and other drugs together. The researchers also emphasize that marijuana and other substances can impact motorists differently, making it challenging to establish a correlation between someone’s use of the drug and a specific result. 

What can you do if a drugged motorist struck you?

Many of us have seen marijuana use depicted in movies and understand that it can distort a person’s perceptions. We’ve heard the public service announcements about the dangers of distracted driving. An attorney may advise you how Arizona law allows you to recover compensation should a drugged driver injure you or take the life of your loved one. 


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