Cannabis industry partnerships: a proven strength for impaired-driving campaigns

Traffic Safety Pulse News

Cannabis industry partnerships: a proven strength for impaired-driving campaigns

It’s been six years since Colorado legalized recreational cannabis. And it’s been six years since CDOT launched its first cannabis-impaired driving campaign. And for six years, CDOT has built strong and lasting relationships with the cannabis industry and all involved — including Colorado roadway users— are all the better for it. 

Learning from our audience how to talk to our audience

CDOT learned pretty quickly that cannabis consumers are not all alike and don’t conform to the “stoner stereotype.” Through collaboration and open communication with partners like the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), safety campaign communicators learned that stereotypes are offensive and quickly turn off audiences to the message being delivered. And, while humor is OK, our campaigns must speak to consumers like adults in a respectful tone. 

Colorado is not all the same

Marijuana doesn’t just affect people, it affects communities. And each community faces unique problems that require tailored solutions. This is why CDOT’s Drive High, Get a DUI and The Cannabis Conversation campaigns have worked with industry partners across Colorado – from metro Denver to Colorado Springs, as well as Pueblo, Fort Collins, mountain communities and the Western Slope. Working with companies like Starbuds, Native Roots, Buddy Boy Brands, the Cannabis Business Alliance, Lightshade and MIG, CDOT learned about the specific needs of our communities and how we could work alongside our partners to address them while educating cannabis consumers and the general public. 

Not always what is said, but who is saying it

For decades, government messaging around cannabis was very critical of consumers and cannabis use in general. Even though recreational cannabis has been legal for years, CDOT has learned that many people may not trust a government voice — even if it is about public safety and the effects of cannabis use on driving. So CDOT has worked closely with our partners to help deliver safety messages to their networks, reaching consumers who may have otherwise been closed off to the information because of where it was coming from. By including this industry voice, together we were able to demonstrate that this isn’t just a CDOT issue – it’s something that touches many different aspects of society. From law enforcement to healthcare to road safety and the industry itself, cannabis-impaired driving is complicated – making these partnerships and the need to work together that much more necessary.  

This year, CDOT plans to continue working closely with partners in the cannabis industry — and in healthcare, law enforcement, prevention, and state and local governments. The goal is to help Colorado eliminate cannabis involved crashes, fatalities and DUIs across the state.