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To Avoid Similar Drunk Driving Outcomes, Colorado Surveying Public on Cannabis

To Avoid Similar Drunk Driving Outcomes, Colorado Surveying Public on Cannabis

Dina Al-Shibeeb
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Colorado is one of the early US states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. However, the number of marijuana-related car accidents in Colorado has hit 77 in 2016, the highest number in recent years.

While the marijuana-related automobile fatalities continue to lag behind its alcohol counterpart, with the latter being 26 percent of Colorado’s 608 total road fatalities in 2016 in comparison to marijuana at 8 percent, the state’s authorities are alarmed.

“That’s really troubling to us,” CDOT communications manager Sam Cole told an audience gathered at a Lowry neighborhood recreation center last week. 

“We’re a little frustrated we’re not moving the needle on driver behavior.”

This has pushed the state transportation officials to start surveying thousands of residents in Colorado to decipher their attitudes toward driving under the influence of pot, The Journal-Advocate reported on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has held its first open house to discuss the issue.

Glenn Davis, CDOT’s highway safety manager, said: 

“We want to work with the marijuana industry so we don’t have numbers like we have with alcohol.”

He added: “We want to work to get ahead of this.”

CDOT conducted a survey last year, where it showed that just over half of marijuana users in Colorado, said they drove their vehicles in the last 30 days within two hours of their pot use.

10,000 Responses Online

During the meeting, people were asked to explain their stance on “driving under pot’s influence by using whiteboards and computer questionnaires and even by dropping stones into mason jars corresponding to certain questions about marijuana and vehicular use,” The Journal-Advocate reported.

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CDOT also garnered 10,000 in responses to their online campaign.  The Journal-Advocate said the data will be assembled, unwrapped and analyzed this summer.

Measuring Pot-Impairment Complicated

Measuring what is considered as impairment by marijuana is far more complicated if compared to alcohol

“Cannabis consumption does not equate to impairment, but it can,” Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said.

Driving under the influence of alcohol can be precisely measured in a person’s blood alcohol content, however, pot impairment is not as linear as people’s tolerance level and their unique biochemical individuality play a big factor.

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