Car Accident Numbers Increase in States Where Marijuana Has Been Legalized


OMAHA, Nebraska. Marijuana remains illegal in Nebraska, despite the legalization of the drug in Colorado. There have been reports of officers in Nebraska targeting drivers entering the state from Colorado, trying to catch drivers transporting the drug across state lines and attempting to stop dangerous intoxicated drivers from driving on Nebraska roads. As the states debate whether to legalize marijuana or soften laws regarding possession, initial reports are coming out that reveal some of the risks of legalization.

According to CBS News, reports indicate that in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, car accident rates have climbed. Researchers looked at Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, and found that in states that legalized marijuana, accident insurance reports increased by 6 percent. Are you worried that these accident rates might impact Nebraska? Researchers found that compared to neighboring states, the states that legalized recreational marijuana saw an increase in accidents. Neighboring states were used as “controls” in the studies. So, while drivers can cross freely from Colorado, Nebraska may not have been impacted so greatly by the uptick in accidents in Colorado.

Driving while under the influence of marijuana is illegal across all 50 states. However, enforcement of marijuana use and driving is more challenging than drunk driving enforcement. With drunk driving, a simple breathalyzer or blood test performed when a driver is suspected of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence can be sufficient to show elevated alcohol levels. However, THC, the active chemical in marijuana, can be present in a person’s system for days after use. A person can test positive, but may not necessarily be impaired.

According to the Motley Fool, Nebraska remains one of the 20 states that has said “no” to both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana use. Nebraska remains one of the states with the toughest anti-marijuana laws, banning all forms of the drug. Yet, it isn’t clear whether these laws will remain in place for long. 77% of Nebraska residents favor making marijuana legal and pro-marijuana groups are pushing to make the substance legal in the state by 2020. Already, residents don’t need to drive far to get their hands on marijuana, with Colorado having legalized the substance.

The challenges of legalizing marijuana remain. How can officers better enforce use of the drug among drivers? Marijuana use and driving don’t mix and can seriously impair a driver, leading to accidents. Clearly, as more states legalize the drug, officers need more resources when it comes to enforcing drugged driving laws. As it stands, officers can still stop drivers they believe are a danger to themselves or others.

Have you been hurt by a drunk or drugged driver? Rensch & Rensch Law are Omaha, Nebraska car accident lawyers who work closely with victims who have been hurt due to the actions of other drivers behind the wheel. Protect your rights. Visit us at today to learn more about your options, if you’ve been hurt due to a drugged or drunk driver.

Rensch & Rensch Law
7602 Pacific Street,
Suite 102
Omaha, NE 68114

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