Fri Feb 16th, 2018
Tags: Colo. Dept. of Transportation, ColoradoCannabisConvo.com, Delta 9-THC, Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), Kristi Kelly, Lightshade Dispensaries VP, Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), marijuana-involved traffic crashes, Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility, Safety Communications Manager at CDOT, Sam Cole, Shannon Brooks, The Cannabis Conversation
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), along with 18 partners representing the marijuana industry, community nonprofits, universities and others, has launched a new campaign that invites Coloradans to share their opinions, behaviors and habits related to marijuana and driving. Called The Cannabis Conversation, this new drugged driving campaign aims to capture and understand public perceptions about marijuana-impaired driving in an effort to collectively identify solutions that will keep Colorado’s roads safer.
Colorado continues to see serious marijuana-involved traffic crashes in Colorado. It’s a problem that CDOT and its partners are now seeking the community’s input to help address. In 2016, there were 77 fatalities that involved drivers with active THC in their blood. Fortunately, recent public education efforts have resulted in over 90 percent of marijuana users knowing they can get a DUI for driving high. However, more than 50 percent of users consistently report driving high in the last 30 days, which puts all roadway users at risk.
“As the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, everyone looks to Colorado for answers to drugged driving so we are trying something new and innovative,” said Sam Cole, Safety Communications Manager at CDOT. “The Cannabis Conversation is about hearing from many different voices on the topic of driving high and understanding how we can more effectively connect with people about the dangers of doing so.”
To spark the conversation, the campaign is asking Coloradans to complete an anonymous online survey about their opinions and behaviors related to marijuana and driving. The campaign will also be talking to the public at various events and festivals throughout the spring to gather feedback in person. The campaign seeks to understand why some marijuana users choose to drive high, what the public perceives as the dangers of doing so, and how campaign partners can more effectively address the situation. Both marijuana users and non-users are encouraged to participate in the process.
Take the survey at ColoradoCannabisConvo.com.
This is a statewide, multiyear initiative that will involve the public, industry influencers, dispensaries, law enforcement, local government and other stakeholders to ensure all angles and perspectives are heard.
“Responsible consumption and reducing marijuana-impaired driving is a shared priority,” said Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG). “We’re proud to play a part in this collaborative approach and look forward to learning from what Colorado has to say about this issue.”
Delta 9-THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis and it can cause impaired driving. Colorado law specifies that drivers with five nanograms or more of Delta 9-THC in their blood can be charged for DUI. Because Colorado cannot use roadside devices for the detection of marijuana, law enforcement officers – many trained as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) – base arrests on observed impairment. People who use marijuana for medicinal purposes can also be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana if they show impairment. On average, more than 60 people are arrested each day in Colorado for DUIs resulting from drug or alcohol consumption.
“We at Lightshade are proud to participate in The Cannabis Conversation. This is our third year working with CDOT, and this year, we’re looking forward to a fresh approach. We think two-way communication is important. Better understanding this issue can ultimately improve the safety of our customers and the general public – something that is of utmost concern to us,” said Shannon Brooks, Lightshade Dispensaries VP, Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility. “We also think It’s important to educate cannabis consumers to the dangers of driving high – and feel strongly that the message needs to be delivered in a way that’s well-received and can change behaviors.”
“Ultimately, we want to create a social and behavioral shift in the way people think about driving high,” said Cole. “What we learn from this campaign will help us move toward our goal of zero deaths on Colorado roads.”
For more information about The Cannabis Conversation and to participate in the survey, visit ColoradoCannabisConvo.com.