Montrose Police and CDOT raise awareness about cannabis impaired driving

News Release

May 3, 2023 - Northwestern Colorado - Event was part of a training by law enforcement to educate the cannabis industry on the observable signs and symptoms of how cannabis impacts a person’s ability to drive
How much do you know about cannabis and driving Cannabis Industry Event sponsored by Canopy Growth, Wana Brands, MIG and graphic
How much do you know about cannabis (and driving)? Cannabis Industry event sponsored by Canopy Growth, Wana Brands, MIG and graphic

Denver — On April 19, the Colorado Department of Transportation gathered volunteers in a local hotel conference room and offered them cannabis edibles — all in the name of science and safety. Audience on-lookers included marijuana industry professionals, law enforcement and state government leaders.

The event was part of a training by law enforcement to educate the cannabis industry on the observable signs and symptoms of how cannabis impacts a person’s ability to drive. Dave Copeland, a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) with the Montrose Police Department, leant his expertise to the demonstration. The workshop included information on how law enforcement detects impairment and a class on the visible indicators of impairment from cannabis. Other agencies that participated in the training included the Adams County Sheriff's Office, Aurora Police, Brighton Police, Colorado Springs Police, Colorado State Patrol and Greenwood Village Police.

"I'm honored to have been a part of this important training led by CDOT. Law enforcement and cannabis industry professionals must work together to promote safe driving practices and prevent impaired driving,” said Officer Copeland. “I was happy to help run the lab and share my experience with attendees on the observable signs of impairment from cannabis. I commend all of our partners for their commitment to keeping our roads safe and appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this effort."

Community volunteers dosed themselves with cannabis to demonstrate its effects, especially on driving. During the demonstration, volunteers ingested fast-acting THC edibles to varying levels of impairment. The volunteers then underwent a mock roadside sobriety assessment by law enforcement to demonstrate to industry members and others in attendance how officers detect impairment. The volunteers were given Lyft ride credit to get to and home from the event safely.

“CDOT deeply values our partners in the cannabis industry and their willingness to work alongside us to help keep Coloradans safe,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT. “Research shows that the cannabis industry has the most positive and significant influence on cannabis consumers, so we felt it was important for them to see firsthand the indications of impairment and how those symptoms can create a dangerous situation on our roadways.”

The training workshop comes as drug-impaired driving escalates across Colorado. In 2022, more people were killed on Colorado roads than at any time in recent history with 760 lives lost. About one-third of those deaths involved an impaired driver. While alcohol is usually the most common cause of impairment, drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested above the legal limit for active THC increased from 50 in 2020 to 79 in 2021. Since 2019, deaths involving an impaired driver from all substances have increased by almost 60%.

The workshop was attended by cannabis industry employees and representatives from the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), Canopy Growth, and WanaBrands.

“There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to cannabis-impaired driving,” said Glenn Davis of CDOT’s Highway Safety Office. “Our goal is to give folks in the industry the knowledge and tools to keep their patrons safe by steering them away from risky behaviors like driving high.”

CDOT’s cannabis industry training workshop was sponsored by, Canopy Growth, the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG) and Wana Brands. Wana also provided the THC edibles for volunteers.

On April 12, CDOT also hosted a “Green Lab” cannabis-impairment training for law enforcement. This was the first-ever CDOT ARIDE training with participants who consumed cannabis on hand for law enforcement to evaluate. Seventeen officers participated from agencies including Montrose Police Department, Boulder County Sheriff Office, Brighton Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Craig Police Denver, Denver Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, Longmont Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, and Parker Police Department.

To learn more about cannabis-impaired driving in Colorado, visit the CDOT Drugged Driving webpage, and find the latest data and cannabis educational resources. CDOT aims to change the norms around driving high, reducing the number of cannabis-impaired crashes and deaths on Colorado roads through research-based awareness and education.