On October 9, a new campaign against drugged driving, courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving (CTFDID) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rolled out at the State Capitol in Denver. The campaign is mostly focused on people who use legalized cannabis in Colorado and then get behind the wheel of their car. Driving under the influence of marijuana, just like driving after drinking alcohol, is dangerous.
“If you feel different, you drive different” is the slogan created to encourage residents and tourists to not drive on in the Rocky Mountain State if they have used cannabis that day. Because the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, affects all users differently, the task force feels if you have used cannabis at anytime during the day, you should avoid driving altogether. Colorado became one of the first states in the country to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Colorado’s Amendment 64 was passed in November 2012, and marijuana was available for purchase in various forms in dispensaries all over the state beginning January 1, 2014.
Pot Popularity in the Rocky Mountain State
Sales of marijuana in Colorado have been booming since 2014, and sales have been growing each year. In 2014, sales totaled $683,523,739, and this year from January to August, sales have totaled $1,022,245,511. And yes, that’s billion with a B. Unfortunately, however, the number of drivers getting behind the wheel after partaking in marijuana also appears to be increasing.
One fact that’s of great concern to the groups promoting this new campaign is that approximately 20% of cannabis users admit to driving shortly after smoking or ingesting edibles. Statistics on roadway deaths reported by the Colorado State Patrol indicate that 455 people died on Colorado roads from January 1 to October 1, 2018, and 25% of those deaths involved some type of driver impairment.
Legal Limit of THC
According to Colorado law, the legal limit of THC for Colorado drivers is “5 nanograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) per milliliter of blood.” Studies show that THC affects reaction times, depth perception, and may cause paranoia and hallucinations with some users. While the effects of smoking or ingesting marijuana will differ with users, and the level of impairment may differ, driving after using marijuana can be just as dangerous as driving after drinking alcohol.
Don’t Drive While Rocky Mountain High
The “If you feel different, you drive different” Colorado campaign encourages people who enjoy marijuana to:
- Use a sober ride as they’re available virtually everywhere now, or find a friend or family member to drive you after using pot
- Contact law enforcement if you see an impaired driver on the road; many interstates have numbers on road signs to report impaired drivers
- Don’t ride with an impaired driver
- If you’re in a bar or restaurant and see an obviously impaired patron getting into a car, tell the bar owner or bartender, and if they do nothing, you should call the police.
- Know how marijuana affects you and understand the science behind its effect on the body. Don’t assume that “experienced” users can handle driving while high, and don’t expect every time you smoke or ingest pot to feel the same effect.