‘I Drive Better When I’m High’: Campaign Highlights Dangers

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– A man appears on a video and proclaims, “I actually drive better when I’m high.” A big “X” then covers those words as they appear on the screen. It’s all part of a campaign to draw attention to the dangers of driving while high.

(credit: CDOT)

The videos are being played in Colorado marijuana dispensaries as part of a campaign backed by the Marijuana Industry Group and the Colorado Department of Transportation, along with others.

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The nonchalant attitude about driving while high on marijuana is pretty much what CBS4 found five years ago when asking marijuana users to get high then take the wheel on a Master Drive practice course.

In that 2013 experiment, one woman screamed as she drives and says “sorry” then laughs as she maneuvers between the cones and laughs again.

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The instructor said she had a problem with speed.

The woman responded, “I may have sped a bit but I don’t think I knocked over any cones or small children or people or anyone.”

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A man who volunteered for the non-scientific study was measured at more than six times the five nanograms legal limit after smoking pot.

He struck cones as he drove and his speed went up along with his THC levels.

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When CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger asked him, “How would you rate your performance?” He responded, “Piece of cake.”

It’s that type of attitude this campaign is hoping to change.

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Sam Cole with CDOT says, ”We are still seeing way too many people telling us they are getting in their cars and driving high.”

The state agency says statistics show in 2016 there were 77 fatalities that involved drivers with active THC in their blood.

Sam Cole with CDOT (credit: CBS)

Ninety percent of drivers knew they could get a DUI citation for driving high on marijuana, but more than half of the users reported driving while high in the previous 30 days.

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The consequences of driving while high can vary.

Melanie Brinegar was charged with being over the legal limit. But a jury decided she wasn’t impaired.

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In another case, a 17-year-old was sentenced to two years in youth corrections. He had told friends he was too high on pot to drive, but did so anyway and was quickly involved in a crash taking another student’s life.

As part of the “Cannabis Conversation,” a survey is being conducted regarding driving while high.

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For more information about The Cannabis Conversation and to participate in the survey, visit ColoradoCannabisConvo.com.

It can be taken without revealing your identity.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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