Recreational marijuana for adults has been legal in Nevada since 2017. Since then, dozens of marijuana dispensaries have popped up in Las Vegas. This has led to more locals and tourists partaking in cannabis and THC products than ever before. Unfortunately, it has also led to an increase in Las Vegas marijuana car crashes.
Many people wonder if marijuana use increases the chances of a car crash, similar to drunk driving. After all, consumption of alcohol or marijuana can lead to impaired driving. To help you understand how dangerous this can be, the Las Vegas car wreck lawyers from ER Injury Attorneys explain the effects of marijuana on driving, whether legalized marijuana has increased the number of Las Vegas car crashes, and a big issue to look out for in the future.
How THC Increases Your Chances of a Car Crash
Tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana products. It can have different effects on different people, depending on their bodies and brains. In that respect, consuming marijuana products is similar to alcohol consumption–the same amount will affect people differently.
Additionally, marijuana strains can have significantly different effects. For example, some people have reported that sativa makes them feel more energetic, talkative, creative, and prone to laughter. On the other end of the spectrum, indica typically makes people feel relaxed, sleepy, pleasantly unfocused, and unwilling to move (commonly referred to as “couch lock”).
No matter the strain, THC has shown that it can greatly diminish your ability to drive safely. Here are five reasons why marijuana can lead to car accidents:
- Impaired Reaction Time: the relaxing effects of THC also lower your ability to react. This can lead to an accident when you’re unable to make a split-second decision to avoid a collision.
- Reduced Coordination and Motor Skills: driving a car safely requires coordinated use of your arms, legs, and eyes. Marijuana use can make this coordination significantly more difficult.
- Altered Perception of Distance and Time: THC can affect your brain’s ability to process time and distance properly. This can cause you to hit an object or person (such as a bicyclist or pedestrian), since you may think you have more time and space to avoid them than you actually do.
- Decreased Concentration and Increased Distraction: many people enjoy the way that THC makes them feel pleasantly “zoned out.” This can be lethal when driving, since the effect makes focusing on the task of driving difficult and makes you more susceptible to distracted driving.
- Altered Judgment and Decision Making: as mentioned above, THC is a psychoactive compound, which means that it can literally affect your brain. This may cause you to drive in an erratic way or make poor choices that can lead to an automobile crash.
Has Legalization Increased Las Vegas Marijuana Car Crashes?
Nationally, recreational marijuana use is known to have increased the number of car accident injuries and car crash fatalities in states where the substance is legalized. In a study of five states with legal marijuana use (California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found a 6% increase in car accident injuries and a 4% increase in fatal car wrecks compared with states where recreational marijuana use was illegal during the study period.
One thing to keep in mind is that the study period ended in 2019 and recreational marijuana availability in Las Vegas has increased since then.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal (LVRJ), there were 38 reported car accident fatalities in Nevada involving marijuana, which is almost double the number in 2016, a year before recreational cannabis became legal. With the vast majority of Nevada cannabis dispensaries in Las Vegas, the majority of the accidents took place in our city. Furthermore, the actual number is likely higher, since some reports may not specifically list marijuana as the cause of impairment.
Cannabis Lounges Will Likely Increase Las Vegas Marijuana Car Crashes
Although the recreational use of marijuana is legal in Nevada, consumption was only legal in private areas, such as apartments in houses, until recently. In that respect, smoking marijuana or eating edible THC products is very different from alcohol, which can be consumed in bars, in restaurants, at sports events, at concerts, and more. This has limited the number of Las Vegas marijuana car crashes, but that will change soon.
In 2023, NuWu Cannabis opened SkyHigh Lounge in Downtown Las Vegas. SkyHigh lounge is the first licensed marijuana lounge in Las Vegas and several others are slated to open in 2024.
This means that people will have a place to consume THC products. And similar to how some people have more than they planned to drink at a bar before driving to their next destination, there is great potential for people consuming too much THC before driving. This can lead to car accident injuries and wrongful death.
There is a strong likelihood of marijuana lounges increasing the number Las Vegas car accidents and deaths as more open up. In addition to increased consumption from locals, Las Vegas has a well-earned reputation as a party town and many tourists come to “Sin City” to indulge excessively. That indulgence can lead to reckless behavior, such as impaired driving.
Contact a Las Vegas Marijuana Car Crash Lawyer
ER Injury Attorneys hope that you have a better understanding of how recreational marijuana has led to an increase in Las Vegas car accidents. Our team urges you not to drive if you’ve consumed any THC products. Should get injured by a driver that you suspect was high on marijuana then contact us for immediate assistance.
You can reach our team of accomplished Nevada injury lawyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach us by phone at 702-878-7878 and online through LiveChat or encrypted contact form. In addition to diligently serving injury victims in Las Vegas, ER Injury Attorneys represents people throughout Nevada, Henderson, Summerlin, Pahrump, Boulder City, Laughlin, and beyond. Reach out to us today and take the first step towards the compensation that you’re entitled to.