It is no longer a crime in Massachusetts for adults to use marijuana. It does remain illegal for one to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Most studies on the subject have shown that the consumption of marijuana impairs one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. And, research has shown that the increase in access to marijuana may lead to an increase in the number of impaired drivers on the roads.
Enforcement of operation under the influence of laws is more challenging for marijuana than they are for alcohol. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently recognized that “[t]he scientific community has not reached a consensus as to whether a defendant’s performance on [field sobriety tests] is correlated with marijuana use or impairment.” Commonwealth v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017). We also know that amount of marijuana in a person’s systems does not necessarily mean that the person is impaired.
The relevant research does show that the legalization of marijuana may impact motorists. In 2017, in a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), researchers claim that accident claims were approximately three percent (3%) higher in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado in states where marijuana had been legalized. In 2018, another study from the IIHS found that traffic accidents increased by approximately five to six percent (5-6%) in states where recreational marijuana was legal compared to states that did not legal recreational marijuana.
Drivers impaired by marijuana should be accountable when they cause a traffic accident. Even if marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, a driver who operates a vehicle while high and causes an accident may be liable for the medical bills and other expenses incurred by an accident victim. Drug test results, eyewitness reports, and various other types of evidence have been used to prove liability in cases where a driver was under the influence of marijuana and caused an accident.
A Massachusetts personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income, pain, and suffering after a motor vehicle accident. My office has significant experience representing clients who have been injured as a result of car accidents. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us for a free consultation. There is no fee unless you win your case.