Drug policy in the United States is constantly changing. While marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal government, numerous states have recently updated their marijuana laws.
California led the way to legalization by becoming the first state to authorize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. Since then, other states have followed suit. Currently, ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
As marijuana legalization spreads across the United States, some opponents caution that Americans haven’t fully considered the potential risks.
The Pro Legalization Argument
Advocates for medical and recreational marijuana use say that legal marijuana can help patients who suffer from conditions including chronic pain, cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and psychotic disorders.
They also say that medical cannabis could help with the opioid epidemic. There is also some evidence that cannabis products may help wean people off their opioid addiction. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois allow marijuana as a substitute for addictive painkillers or as a way for people to get themselves off of opioids.
Marijuana advocates also argue that cannabis is safer than alcohol or tobacco.
The Opponents of Marijuana Use
As the medical and recreational use of cannabis becomes more common, opponents are beginning to speak out about the potential risks. Outspoken critics warn that studies have linked the use of marijuana to suicide, psychosis and other mental illnesses, and the increase in the number of car crashes.
According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2006, hospital emergency rooms saw 30,000 cases of people who had diagnoses of psychosis and marijuana-use disorder, which is the medical term for abuse or dependence on the drug. By 2014, that number had increased to 90,000 cases.
Additionally, research has shown an increase in cannabis use disorder in young people and that the intelligence of adolescent cannabis users may be affected.
Increase in Car Accidents
As personal injury attorneys, we are particularly concerned with anything that increases the risk of car accidents. Is the legalization of marijuana contributing to a significant public health risk?
The Highway Loss Data Institute found that car crashes increased 6 percent from 2012 to 2017 in the four states that legalized marijuana during that period: Nevada, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.
Matt Moore, Senior Vice President of the Highway Loss Data Institute, has said, “It makes me very nervous about highway safety as many more are considering legalizing it for recreational use.”
Other studies have shown that drivers who used marijuana before driving had slower thinking and perceptual skills and were more likely to weave while driving.
Experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys
Were you or a loved one in a car accident caused by someone who you believe was under the influence of marijuana? If so, you should speak to an experienced Personal Injury Attorney today. Contact Anthem Injury Lawyers today at (702) 850-0202.