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Colorado residents should be aware that the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012 has led to a spike in car accidents. This was the conclusion of a study conducted by UC San Francisco researchers, the results of which were published in the medical journal BMJ Open.

The data consisted of 28 million hospital records spanning 2010 to 2014 and covering the states of Colorado, New York and Oklahoma. Researchers discovered a 10% increase in car crashes after legalization in Colorado and also noted a 5% increase in cases of alcohol abuse and overdoses that led to injury or death.

On the other hand, there was a 5% decline in the number of people admitted to the hospital for chronic pain. This could be said to support the idea that marijuana use alleviates such pain. In all, researchers say that studying hospital records during these times of transition can help alert policymakers and medical professionals to the potential harm caused by recreational marijuana.

It also serves as a warning to individuals who are considering smoking it. Above all, the use of any mind-altering substance among drivers will raise the risk for an accident. In a survey conducted by researchers, 22 million Americans admitted to using marijuana in the previous 30 days.

When alcohol- or drug-impaired drivers cause auto accidents, they can be held liable for injuries to occupants of other vehicles. Victims, for their part, may want to file their claim against the other’s auto insurance company only after hiring legal representation. A lawyer may do much for a case, especially when the time comes for negotiations. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, litigation might be necessary.