Car Accidents Involving Legalized Marijuana

In February 2015, Alaska became the third state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. Drug legalization can have a significant impact on many different aspects of society, including marijuana use when operating a vehicle.

Car keys and marijuanaThe Effects of Marijuana

By altering parts of the brain that govern bodily motion, balance and coordination, and decision-making ability, marijuana interferes with the brain’s ability to function normally. These changes impact:

  • Concentration
  • Memory
  • Anxiety levels
  • Reaction time
  • Coordination
  • Distance perception
  • Cognitive function

Marijuana Legalization in Alaska

Marijuana possession and use is legal in Alaska for individuals 21 years of age or older. The law also allows adults to possess, grow, and give away up to six marijuana plants, but no more than three of them may be mature and flowering simultaneously. However, the transportation of any marijuana products across Alaska’s state lines is strictly prohibited.

Public consumption of marijuana is illegal in Alaska. You also cannot use marijuana while you’re operating any type of motorized vehicle, including cars, boats, planes, and ATVs. Driving while high is against the law, and violators may be arrested for driving under the influence. Even if marijuana is being used for a medical purpose, a driver may still be arrested due to his erratic driving behavior.

The Impact of Marijuana Legalization on Drivers

Available evidence indicates that marijuana use significantly impairs driving skills, and that driving while high may double your risk of a crash. Since Alaska’s law is still relatively new, there is no reliable data linking driving under the influence of marijuana to vehicle collisions. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington has caused a three percent increase in vehicle collision claims.

You Need an Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident due to the negligence of someone driving under the influence of marijuana, you deserve compensation. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.

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