Although Rhode Island has not legalized the recreational use of marijuana, that doesn't prevent people from joining in the April 20 celebrations that have been going on across the nation for more than 25 years. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, though, this self-proclaimed holiday may be responsible for an increase in fatal car crashes.
The conclusion isn't a surprising one since, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use impairs driving abilities. Researchers found that every April 20, there is an increase in the number of fatal car crashes.. The trend was detected in most, but not all, states.
Researchers had analyzed U.S. government crash data spanning from 1992 to 2016. Because most of the data lacked information on drug testing, researchers could not determine what percentage of those crashes were marijuana-related. Many marijuana users also consume alcohol when they drive, further complicating the results.
Some states are trying to raise awareness of how pervasive drug-impaired driving is. In 2017, Colorado saw 15 percent of its DUI arrests involving marijuana. The state has taken steps to reduce the number of accidents on 4/20, and it has partnered with Lyft and a pot industry group to provide discounted rides to pot smokers on that date.
When drug-impaired driving leads to a car accident, occupants of other vehicles could suffer catastrophic injuries that require lengthy and costly medical treatment. In many cases, victims are unable to ever return to gainful employment. People in this situation might want to have a lawyer's help in seeking appropriate compensation from the at-fault motorist.