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4/20 marijuana holiday linked to increased car crash deaths

With recreational marijuana legalized in California, people need to be more aware than ever that the drug impairs driving abilities, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The same agency, however, notes that it can be hard to pinpoint the number of car crashes that were caused by marijuana use as drivers tend to combine the drug with alcohol consumption.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has recently shown that car crash fatality rates increase in most states every April 20, which was designated as a holiday for marijuana users over 25 years ago. While the study could not determine how many of the accidents are caused by marijuana use, the authors believe the drug is responsible for some of them.

The study analyzed U.S. government data on fatal car crashes between 1992, when the holiday was starting to become popular among pot smokers, and 2016. Researchers noticed a 12 percent overall increase in car crash deaths on 4/20 as compared to the preceding and following weeks. 142 additional deaths were tied to the holiday.

Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C. Colorado is one state where the effects of 4/20 are already felt. Last year, the Colorado DoT partnered with Lyft to provide discounted rides for pot users immediately before, on and after the 4/20 holiday.

Many people are still not even aware that marijuana impairs driving. When marijuana use contributes to a car accident, victims can file a claim for compensation. If successful, a claim could cover medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, pain and suffering and more. The settlement can be high, but the insurance companies will be aggressive, so it's essential to hire a lawyer for the filing and negotiating processes. Accident attorneys can have investigators strengthen the case before proceeding to negotiations or litigation.

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