Is Marijuana Legalization Causing More Car Accidents in Colorado? Here’s The Truth!

wagswoofs – The impact of cannabis legalization on traffic accidents, particularly in Colorado, has been a significant concern. A study from the University of Illinois Chicago found that in four out of seven states that legalized recreational cannabis, there was a 10% increase in deaths from car crashes, although it’s important to note that this statistic is not specific to Colorado alone​​. In Colorado, it has been reported that 8% of fatal crashes are caused by drivers intoxicated from marijuana, highlighting the potential risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis​​.

Additionally, the number of traffic fatalities in Colorado where a driver tested positive for any cannabinoid (including Delta 9 or any other metabolite) increased by 140%, from 55 in 2013 to 132 in 2019. It’s important to note, however, that the detection of cannabinoids in the blood is not necessarily an indicator of impairment, but rather indicates the presence of these substances in the system​​.

What is the Legal Limit for Driving High on Marijuana in Colorado?

The legal limit for determining alcohol impairment is 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol content). However, when it comes to marijuana, it can be challenging to determine if someone is driving under the influence. In Colorado, the law states that drivers with five nanograms of active THC in their entire blood can face prosecution for driving under the influence (DUI). Interestingly, the number of traffic fatalities involving drivers who were legally impaired by marijuana decreased significantly from 52 in 2016 to 35 in 2017, according to CDOT accident data.

The chart above illustrates the number of fatalities related to cannabis use. The data is sourced from CDOT’s Drugged Driving Statistics.

Non-fatal car accidents may not result in fatalities, but they can still have significant consequences. It’s important to remember that the numbers mentioned earlier only refer to fatal accidents, and there are thousands of non-fatal accidents that occur. These accidents can lead to severe injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and physical disabilities. Recovering from a non-fatal car accident can require years of rehabilitation or physical therapy.

If you sustain injuries in a car accident that you suspect might be attributed to marijuana use, it is crucial to enlist the support of a skilled attorney. Insurance companies are still grappling with the impact of marijuana on insurance claims. Hence, to prevent the denial of your auto accident claim, it is essential to have a knowledgeable Colorado attorney like McDivitt by your side. They will ensure that you receive the rightful settlement you deserve.

Marijuana’s Effect on Driving

Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana sparked concerns among safety experts about its impact on car accidents and pedestrian collisions in the state. This concern is backed by studies that have highlighted the following findings:

    • Drivers under the influence of marijuana weave more in simulated traffic studies.
    • Drivers under the influence of marijuana have slower thinking and perceptual skills.
    • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana “significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time.”

According to certain reports, the legalization of marijuana in several states may be contributing to an increase in car accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) conducted research that shows a rise in car accidents, up to 6 percent, in states like Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, which have legalized recreational marijuana. This increase is observed when compared to neighboring states that have not legalized the drug.

What to Do if You’re Concerned About Marijuana’s Impact on Colorado Drivers

Legalized marijuana is still a relatively new concept in Colorado, so it’s important to gather more research and data before drawing definitive conclusions. However, regardless of your stance on the matter, there are opportunities to make your voice heard. In 2018, CDOT launched “The Cannabis Conversation,” a comprehensive traffic safety campaign designed to foster meaningful discussions about marijuana and driving throughout the state. To learn more about this initiative, you can either watch the video provided below or visit the CDOT website.


These statistics underscore the need for ongoing research and public health initiatives to address and mitigate the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis, particularly in states where its use is legal.

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