The federal government is spending $430,000 in taxpayer funds to warn Colorado drivers not to drive while stoned.
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced on Monday that “a series of television public announcement spots will air across the state beginning in March, warning drivers that offenders will face similar penalties to those caught driving under the influence of alcohol.”
Recreational marijuana stores opened in Colorado two weeks ago, and, according to Reuters, “handouts and posters will be distributed at the state’s marijuana shops as part of the public service campaign funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
Though Colorado passed a law in 2012 allowing adults to use small amounts of marijuana, residents cannot consume pot in public and cannot have “open containers of cannabis in motor vehicles.” Colorado lawmakers also passed a “driving-while-stoned law that set a 5-nanogram per-milliliter of blood threshold for tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive property in marijuana, [and] police agencies across the state have so-called drug recognition experts to detect drivers suspected of being under the influence” of marijuana.
“There are some who do not feel that marijuana can impair driving but it does,” Darrell Lingk, director of Colorado’s Office of Transportation Safety, told Reuters. “Marijuana affects reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, concentration and perception of time and distance.”
Just this weekend, the Colorado State Patrol said a “23-year-old suburban Denver man was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs after he crashed into two state patrol cruisers that were stopped on a highway.” He was high on marijuana.