Protect Yourself on the Road in Nevada: Car Accidents Increase in States with Legal Marijuana

Picture of Cannabis

During the 2016 election in Nevada, the majority of people voted to make marijuana legal in the state. The change in the law took effect on January 1, 2017, with the first legal retail sales beginning in Southern Nevada starting on June 30, 2017. Since then, there have been concerns about the increase in car accidents due to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana

Around the same time as the first retail sales were starting in Nevada, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) released information indicating a three percent increase in vehicle collision claims after marijuana had been legalized in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington

However, when examining data from individual states, Colorado saw the most significant increase of 14 percent compared to nearby control states. In addition, research data showed there was a 6.2 percent increase in claims in Washington and a 4.5 percent increase in Oregon. 

When you have been injured by a driver high on marijuana, hold them accountable by getting help from our Las Vegas car accident law firm. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today. 

Why does legalization increase car collisions?

In the first states that legalized recreational use of marijuana, it is believed the initial spike in car collisions was caused by the newness of being able to consume marijuana legally. Many of these initial states also used marijuana’s legal recreational use as an advertising tactic to draw tourists to these states. 

Even after the newness wore off, the number of crashes in states with legalized recreational marijuana still tends to be higher compared to states where it is still illegal to use marijuana recreationally. Furthermore, many drivers do not believe the effects of marijuana will impair their driving like alcohol. As a result, more people are likely to get behind the wheel after using marijuana. 

Is driving while using marijuana illegal in Nevada? 

Someone Driving While Holding Marijuana

When marijuana was legalized for recreational use and retail sales in Nevada, it was illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the effects of controlled substances, including marijuana. It is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. 

Furthermore, it is illegal to smoke marijuana or consume edibles while driving. If law enforcement officers catch you, you can face serious DUI charges. First-time offenders could spend between two days and six months in jail or have to complete between 48 to 96 hours of community service. 

Additionally, their driver’s license will be suspended for six months. They could also face fines ranging from $400 to $1,000, plus court costs. 

Should a driver get involved in a car collision, the consequences are more severe, especially when they cause injuries to others. Not only will they be charged with a criminal offense, but they may also face a car accident injury lawsuit in civil court. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a marijuana-related car crash, find out your legal rights and how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free case review today.

How severe are crashes caused by drivers impaired by marijuana?

 Drug-related car accident

The severity of car crashes varied after the legalization of marijuana in different states. A study published on July 19, 2022, by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs recorded data from 2009 until 2019, monitoring the effects of marijuana legalization and retail sales on the severity of car collisions

The study concluded the legalization of recreational marijuana resulted in a 6.5 percent increase in injury-causing accidents and a 2.3 percent increase in fatal accidents. When retail sales began in the states, it did have an impact on fatal crash rates but not on injury crashes. The combined data from legalization and retail sales results in an increase of 4.1 percent in fatal car accidents. 

In Nevada, there was an initial increase in car crash rates resulting in injuries and fatalities after the legalization of recreational marijuana and a slight increase after recreational sales began. However, that number seems to have declined more recently. 

One potential reason for the decrease could be the severity of marijuana-impaired driving laws in Nevada. Another cause for the decline could be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, state-wide closures during the pandemic, and more people remaining at home. 

Even with the recent decline, researchers warn that continued research into crash rates needs to continue. 

What if I am injured in a car accident by a driver under the influence of marijuana?

The driver under the influence of marijuana at fault for causing the accident can be held financially accountable for any injuries they caused to you and anyone else in your vehicle. Therefore, you have the legal right to file an injury claim against the driver and their insurance company. Your injury claim can be filed regardless of the driver’s criminal charges

How can I find out if I can file a marijuana-related car accident injury claim?

The easiest way to find out whether you have grounds to file a marijuana-related injury claim after a car accident is to speak with one of our experienced car accident lawyers in Las Vegas. We offer a free consultation and case review while answering any questions you may have.

There are no upfront costs if you have grounds to file an injury claim. Instead, we collect our legal fees when we reach a suitable settlement agreement or win your case at trial. Request your FREE consultation with one of our Las Vegas car accident injury lawyers today. 


IIHS. Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Is Linked to Increased Crashes

IIHS. Crash Rates Jump in Wake of Marijuana Legalization, New Studies Show.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Changes in Traffic Crash Rates After Legalization of Mariujuana: Results by Crash Severity.

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