Cannabis-impaired driving: a look back as we move forward

Traffic Safety Pulse News

The first of its kind

In 2014, Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis – and CDOT launched its first-ever Drive High, Get a DUI campaign. Since then, it’s been an ongoing effort to educate Colorado about the dangers and laws surrounding driving under the influence of cannabis. Colorado has come a long way over the years, greatly increasing awareness of Colorado’s DUI laws — but studies show behavior is not changing and motorists are continuing to drive after consuming cannabis.

A new approach

In 2018, CDOT set out to move the needle by taking a new approach to addressing cannabis-impaired driving. We decided to, bluntly, ask our community what we could be doing differently and how we could design a campaign that really resonated with cannabis consumers. We launched The Cannabis Conversation with the goal of diving deeper into the psyche of Coloradans to learn about their behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about driving high.

Working with the marijuana industry

CDOT worked closely with dispensaries, the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), law enforcement, universities, nonprofits and corporations to research all angles of cannabis-impaired driving – the science, the impacts and the intangibles of an issue that has plenty of gray areas. The point of all this was to engage the public in a collaborative conversation that would help inform future safety campaigns, better educate our communities and find practical solutions to keeping everyone safe on the road. 

A deeper understanding 

The Cannabis Conversation ran for two years, ultimately talking to more than 18,000 Coloradans. Taking what we learned, we developed and tested new creative concepts that we hoped would better connect with audiences. CDOT is launching into 2020 with the same goal we’ve always had, but with new perspectives, a deeper understanding, and a fresh campaign — to reduce the number of crashes and deaths on Colorado roads involving cannabis-impaired driving.

Cannabis in jars, marijuana in jars