On Thursday, The Cannabist reported that Colorado marijuana sales notched $136 million for the third month in a row in September, bringing total revenues to $1.16 billion over the first nine months of the year.
Along with the industry’s healthy growth, however, come concerns about stoned driving, which public safety officials worry is prevalent and deemed acceptable by more than half of marijuana users.
“There’s definitely more of a stigma against driving drunk than driving high, and that’s something we do need to change,” Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Sam Cole said.
To that end, CDOT is ramping up its efforts to keep people from driving high, including an advertising campaign, partnerships with ride-sharing companies to provide discounts and a grassroots education campaign set to begin next year.
Among marijuana users surveyed by CDOT last November, 55 percent said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. Within that group, the same percentage said they had driven high in the past 30 days, on average 12 times.
“They really don’t understand the dangers of driving high,” Cole said. “Your reaction time is impaired, your perception of distance and speed is impaired, and that can lead to a crash.”
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CDOT’s findings are partially backed up by data from Instamotor, a car sales app that found 39 percent of surveyed marijuana users felt comfortable driving high in the nine states where the drug is legal. Another 42 percent said they didn’t feel comfortable driving high, and 19 percent said it varied depending on the situation.
The public safety impacts of marijuana legalization in Colorado are still unclear, as most researchers say it is simply too early to draw conclusions.
But a recent analysis of federal traffic fatality data by the Denver Post