Since 2010, medical marijuana has been approved in Arizona. While there are numerous physical and mental health benefits of using cannabis for pain relief, marijuana use can also be deadly. When working with hazardous equipment, driving a vehicle or performing dangerous work, being high can cause serious injuries or even death. When someone else is using marijuana and seriously injures another, the personal injury may be due to negligence caused by marijuana use.

Marijuana is currently legal on either a medical and/or recreational level in 29 states and in Washington, D.C. Learn about the risks marijuana use can be associated with in regards to causing personal injury to others.

Un-Happy 4/20: How Marijuana Contributes to Personal InjuryWhat Marijuana Does to the Brain and Body

Usually within 30 minutes or less of someone lighting up or ingesting edibles infused with THC (the chemical compound in marijuana that delivers the euphoric high feeling), a marijuana user feels mind-altering effects. These can last up to several hours, depending on dosage and potency of the marijuana. One of the most typical effects is to become fixated on thoughts, since nuerons are firing at a constant rate. This increases distraction and makes it difficult to focus.

There’s also the feeling of relaxation and elation, which can make doing basic tasks seem more pleasurable or less important to take seriously. It’s also common for people to experience food cravings, which can preoccupy their thoughts. High doses can cause hallucinations, panic attacks and other-worldy experiences.

These may all be desirable effects for some marijuana users, but they’re obviously highly dangerous to feel before getting behind the wheel, operating machinery at work, or even navigating an area where a person might collide with someone else and cause a slip and fall. Reaction time also decreases, which inhibits a marijuana user’s ability to safely deal with any hazards surrounding them.

Other potential marijuana effects include:

  • Paranoia
  • Impaired coordination
  • Altered judgment, senses and thinking
  • Mood changes
  • Increased heart rate and breathing problems

When someone is in a safe environment, where they are not likely to harm themselves or others, using medical marijuana in Arizona may be perfectly fine. When someone is under the influence and harms someone else, though, this is negligence. The victim deserves compensation for a personal injury.

Un-Happy 4/20: How Marijuana Contributes to Personal InjuryHow Marijuana Increases Injury Risk

A 2017 collection of research studies published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine identified mixed evidence on the relationship between drug use by employees and workplace accidents, and research continues to be conducted. In terms of motor vehicle safety, driving under the influence of cannabis is associated with a 20 to 30 percent higher likelihood of a motor vehicle crash. When the user has drunk alcohol in addition to using marijuana, the likelihood of a motor vehicle crash is even higher.

Arizona is a zero-tolerance state regarding driving under the influence. If any amount of marijuana is found in the system of someone who is driving, that person can be charged criminally. Registered qualifying medical use patients are, however, not necessarily considered under the influence if marijuana metabolites are present in their system. If, however, a medical marijuana patient causes a vehicle crash that results in serious injury, marijuana may play a factor in a personal injury claim.

Marijuana can stay in one’s system for up to a month after use, and there is not yet a way to detect exactly when a person last ingested the drug. In personal injury cases where marijuana is a factor, it’s so important to work with a personal injury attorney. An attorney will be able to help prove that negligence was the cause of the injury, and marijuana might have been the factor causing it.

What to Do After an Injury Caused by Marijuana

If you are seriously injured and suspect the other party is under the influence of marijuana, it’s vital to call the police. Let the police know about your suspicion. They may ask for a blood test of the other party, which may reveal cannabis use. They can also include details like bloodshot eyes, marijuana odor or a state of confusion in a police report, which is helpful to a case.

If you can gather evidence yourself, whether it’s witness testimony or photos of the harm-causing party, this may also be helpful.

Contact a personal injury attorney for assistance. Matt Millea is a personal injury lawyer who only takes on cases he believes he can win, and there is no payment necessary unless your case is won. If you’ve been hurt by someone because they were high, you deserve compensation. Contact the Millea Law Firm online or at (480) 462-5540 for a free consultation.