CDOT Strikes Up Second Phase of The Cannabis Conversation

March 5, 2019 - Denver Metro Traffic Safety - Latest safety campaign works to find solutions to curb marijuana-impaired driving

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is striking up The Cannabis Conversation again this year, launching Phase 2 of the agency’s marijuana traffic safety campaign. Marijuana-impaired driving continues to be a problem on Colorado roads. From 2017 to 2018, the Colorado State Patrol (CPS) noted a 25 percent increase in marijuana DUI citations, and in 2018, more than 20 percent of all DUI citations by CPS involved marijuana. As CDOT kicks off the next phase of The Cannabis Conversation, the agency is releasing new results collected from last year’s public outreach efforts.

Introduced in 2018, The Cannabis Conversation is a first-of-its-kind, interactive campaign that invites the public, cannabis users and non-users, law enforcement, local government and the marijuana industry to participate in a candid dialogue aimed at identifying creative solutions to the complex problem of marijuana and driving.

Campaign photos and video can be found here.

“Colorado continues to lead the nation in exploring new and innovative ways to combat marijuana-impaired driving,” said Sam Cole, safety communications manager at CDOT. “The Cannabis Conversation is about working collaboratively with cannabis users and stakeholders to understand how we can deter people from driving impaired and protect everyone who uses Colorado’s roadways.”

Last year, CDOT gathered feedback from more than 15,000 Coloradans who participated in the campaign by completing an online survey, attending public meetings and/or sharing their thoughts about marijuana and driving during in-person interviews. The goal during the first year of the campaign was to gain a better understanding of the public and stakeholders’ perspectives, opinions and behaviors related to marijuana-impaired driving. Key insights from this outreach included:

  • The more often people consumed cannabis, the less dangerous they considered driving under the influence of marijuana to be.
  • Most daily users reported driving under the influence of cannabis. People who consumed less typically waited at least two hours after consuming.
  • Many users have normalized driving high, but most still consider whether they are impaired before driving. Their top considerations are: travel conditions, feeling alert enough and how recently they consumed cannabis.
  • Drivers under the influence often expect passengers who feel unsafe to intervene, but passengers generally do not speak up even when they are uncomfortable.
  • Most users are critical of laws, policies and enforcement about driving under the influence of cannabis. 

You can view a summary report of CDOT’s findings at

This year, CDOT is turning the focus of The Cannabis Conversation to creating a new traffic safety PSA ad campaign warning about the dangers. Using insights and feedback from 2018, CDOT will continue to work with stakeholders and the public to collectively develop practical solutions to keep Colorado’s roads safe in an environment where regular marijuana use is a part of many peoples’ daily life.

In the coming months, CDOT will be hosting opportunities across the state for the public to get involved in identifying solutions, as well as helping CDOT design an education campaign on the issue. Opportunities will include public meetings and events, stakeholder workshops, online surveys and digital focus groups. This process will be documented through video and online updates in an effort to be transparent in how CDOT incorporates feedback as the campaign progresses.

“At the end of the day, responsible consumption and reducing marijuana-impaired driving is a shared priority,” said Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), a campaign partner. “We are eager to continue working with CDOT to develop a comprehensive campaign that will speak to marijuana consumers and non-users, and convince people to make sensible choices.”

For more information about The Cannabis Conversation and upcoming opportunities to participate, visit

CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located at its Denver headquarters and in regional offices throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, and airports, and administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service.  Governor Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.