Drugged driving campaign targets medical marijuana patients who drive stoned

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Posters below.
Update below: Against the backdrop of the Westminster Police's drug enforcement checkpoint and a ten-year reckless homicide sentence for "self-medicating" Joshua Wittig, the Colorado Department of Transportation is today launching a drugged-driving campaign. And a CDOT spokeswoman says that while all impairing drugs will be in the spotlight, medical marijuana is a special focus.

"The Heat Is On campaign is our high-visibility DUI enforcement campaign," notes Heather Halpape, CDOT's public-relations manager for safety programs. "This is an extension of that. We've concentrated on alcohol for so long, but we think it's time to make people aware that drugs also impair your ability to drive. And we're not just talking about illegal drugs, but also sleeping pills and prescription medicine that may impair your ability to drive safely, especially if drivers combine them with a glass of wine or something like that."

The rise of Colorado's medical marijuana industry was also an inspiration for the campaign, Halpape confirms.

"Of course, it's a wider issue," she acknowledges. "But I think the prominence of medical marijuana, and how common it is, was also a factor. We hear anecdotally from law enforcement that they're seeing a lot more drivers under the influence of cannabis. We don't know if it's medical marijuana or not, but law enforcement agencies tell us that when they pull someone over, a driver will often show them their registry card, as if that's an excuse."

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The posters designed for dispensaries (click to enlarge).
She points out that Colorado police agencies increasingly include "officers specially trained to recognize signs of impairment. They're called drug-recognition experts, and they have lots of different ways to determine what category of drugs people are under. But for some reason, there's a disconnect" with medical marijuana patients. "They think that because they have a card, they can drive under the influence of marijuana. So we need to educate patients -- let them know that just because you have a card doesn't mean you can drive under the influence of cannabis. Medical marijuana is legal, but beer is legal, too, and that doesn't mean you can drink and drive. And a lot of drivers truly believe they should be let go scot free because they have their registry card."

Such issues cropped up during the most recent legislative session, when Representative Claire Levy sponsored a bill to establish THC driving standard. But the measure was ultimately put on hold shortly after a blood test on Westword medical marijuana reviewer William Breathes showed that he was still at nearly triple the proposed limit when sober, owing to the way cannabis' active ingredients linger in the system.

The Medical Marijuana Industry group supported the concept of Levy's legislation, with executive director Michael Elliott telling us this past March that "we want to do everything we can to make sure our patients are safe drivers, and we share that concern with the sponsors of the bill." It's no surprise, then, that MMIG has been working with CDOT on the drugged-driving campaign.

"We're partnering with the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. We've met with Michael Elliott several times, and they're going to help us distribute posters to medical marijuana centers," Halpape reveals. "And we're also going to provide posters to pharmacies that focus more on prescription medicine, encouraging people to ask their pharmacists and doctors how their medication might affect their ability to drive safely."

The PR doesn't stop there. CDOT is also purchasing billboard space -- some placards are already on view in the Denver area -- in addition to bus ads and gas-pump toppers. Radio spots are part of the mix, too. Links to the latter can be accessed by clicking here.

Halpape thinks the Drugged Driving campaign may be the first of its kind. "I believe some states have done campaigns about prescription medications," she says, "but I'm not aware of one doing a lot with drugged driving, and specifically medical marijuana. We may be the first to have a campaign like this."

Update, 1:06 p.m. August 19: The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reports that a mobile billboard to be used at today's press conference announcing the Drugged Driving campaign was apparently stolen the evening before from a location near West Chatfield Avenue and South Garrison Street. The sign measures eight-feet tall by twenty-feet wide and was bolted to a twenty-foot flatbed trailer.

As for the design, the billboard duplicates the last image below. Page down to see it and other Drugged Driving posters -- and if you have any information about the theft, phone the Jeffco tip line at 303-271-5612.


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44 comments
Guest
Guest

Forget about MMJ for a second. They're saying if they pull over an 85 y/o grandmother and she is impaired by prescription drugs, they're going to take her to jail for DUI? There isn't another solution for HELPING people off the road? Zero tolerance enforcement isn't helpful. It's for the intellectually lazy. It makes it easy to put those who have poor decision making skills in a position of authority. If the police don't take time to decipher between criminal and community, they're doing the community a disservice. If its about the money, fine, how about an outrageous towing cost if an officer says you can't drive and sends you walking. Either way, there has got to be a way to solve DUI problems without coating everything in criminal charges.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

The heart of the issue is the "vague" language in A20. A20 has the SAME out of state funders and authors of the FAKE "legalize it like alcohol"  SAFER/Sensible/MPP/DPA/NORML language being circulated for signatures in CO right now.    

"grey" language in our constitution does NO ONE in CO ANY good.  Think more than TWICE before signing, because when it's grey language before it's law, it HARMS average Coloradans. 

Guest Who
Guest Who

fucking witch hunters . we must stop this. 

Joyfulgrrl8a
Joyfulgrrl8a

I think this is such a terrible idea and it leaves too much room for people's rights to be violated. What happens to the stoner who takes a hit or two compared with the one who rips 10 bong hits, will their crimes be treated the same? Because legally you can have one or two beers and still be ok to drive. Or what happens if one of these "specially trained" officers mistakes your tired blood-shot eyes as being under the influence, because, let's face it, DPD has made many mistakes these days, and maybe you didn't smoke at all that day, but because you do indeed puff, blood test will show you are a user. I just don't see how this whole fiasco can still assure that everyone is treated equally and justly!

Lara Starr
Lara Starr

THC driving limits? What a load of crap! Your limit could be high because you were up late smoking. That doesnt mean you're still high in the morning! Are these ads sponsored by tobacco and pharmaceutical companies like most anti cannabis campaigns? Cannabis doesnt slow down everyones reaction times.. Just some people who smoke large amounts of Indicas. Sativas dont make you drowsy, they sure as hell dont impair your vision and they dont impair your judgement. DISTRACTIONS cause accidents. Coffee can cause accidents. Music can cause accidents. Smoking cigarettes while driving causes accidents. Are you going to arrest people if they have coffee or cigarettes in their car?! Are you going to ban radios in cars now? IF someone gets into an accident because they werent paying attention, THEN you should punish them. If they dont have an accident.. LEAVE THEM THE HELL ALONE!

Zachary Alexander Varon
Zachary Alexander Varon

I love how naive the government to think that people haven't been driving high exactly the same amount as before medicinal. So sick of dumb politicians and law enforcement with their McCarthy era morals and lack of common sense and reason. Why don't you start targeting all the drunk driving police officers that are shown to be given safe passage from other cops? Let me guess, one of those cops got a bug up their butt and started this campaign to take some of the heat off of their own questionable driving decisions.

rmmy100
rmmy100

i agree, i'm a marijuana advocate who feels that if people would stop and think before driving under the influence of anything,ask yourself 'would i want to be responsible for killing or injure anyone while under the influence'. personnally if i medicate, i give myself 1 hour before attempting to operate anything. mmj patient be careful out there, their watching peace.

JoeMomma
JoeMomma

Why am I not surprised MMIG is involved with this? The dispensaries have sold us out to the fear mongering reefer madness crowd (mainly law enforcement) once again showing their interest does not lie with their own patients and A20, but their own survival and greed. Anyone who patronizes a dispensary is like a chicken that supports Colonel Sanders.

scandal
scandal

Ya not all dispensaries are involved with MMIG so lumping all dispensaries together is wrong.

JoeMomma
JoeMomma

Maybe not, but every one that is involved with MMIG is a dispensary.

Guest Who
Guest Who

its terrifying and so blatantly illegal. did the community really sign off on pulling resources off of drunk driving arrests to police something that has no actual negative effect on them? are they educated?

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

oops (impaired)I wrote this in haste because it is so disgusting to see this happening.

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

Actually there are entities that belong to MMIG that are not centers, think outside the box.

I just completed a 30 day trial of daily dosages of over 1.2g of Cannabis oil a day and I am now convinced that THC metabolites do mitigate the effects of THC.  To argue that someone had an accident because they have Cannabis in their system does not mean it caused the accident, that is absurd to think that way.  Look at the science and stop profiling us.

What ever happened to teaching people to take responsibility for themselves?  I would never drive if I were impared, but to tell me I am impared because I am using Cannabis is an insult.  Give me a driving test and you will see.  I have police follow me everywhere, as I have Cannabis all over my Jeep, and I have not been pulled over for impaired driving. These ads are an insult to us as Cannabis patients.

This campaign may target all drugs, but 90% of this demographic are Cannabis consumers.  As a patient if I were to see these prejudicial posters in a dispensary, I would share this will all I can, because they have lost my support and it would hurt us as patients.  This is just like RACISM*, the difference being that society calls us DISABLED.  Why is our own industry fighting each other with this propaganda.

I am very concerned about MMIG, law enforcement and centers that support this.  I believe that it is our responsibility as patients to confront this Drugged Driving campaign as it is demeaning us as disabled people even more by furthering Refer Madness.

*Hundreds of thousands of us are in prison, have been killed, tortured and abused by law enforcement, and forced to physically build more private prisons.

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

* Fact: When combined 2002 to 2005 data are compared with combined 2006 to 2009 data, the Nation as a whole experienced a statistically significant reduction in the rate of past year drugged driving (from 4.8 to 4.3 percent), as did seven States: Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  Four of these seven States have legalized medicinal marijuana, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan and California.  

http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205...

* Fact: California led the US to a nationwide, statistically significant reduction in the incidence of "drugged" driving during a time period when the number of patients claiming the protection of the California Compassionate Use Act and SB-420 increased by a factor of 10.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

There are no immediate prospects for instituting roadside testing for impairment using simulation, although such a system seems eminently practicable.  Instead, we have reacted to impaired driving by throwing over constitutional protections and presuming to regulate the contents of drivers' blood.  BAL (esp. >.1%) is well correlated with culpability for collisions -- for the galaxy of other drugs which can affect driving, we rely very much on the discretion of officers, who are supposed to have probable cause for arrest before demanding an invasive test such as a blood test.

Although alcohol and prescribed medications are the drugs causing most driving impairment, we see no move to close bars or prosecute people on e.g. antihistamines, but society is willing to deem the mere presence of a euphoriant of any description in a driver evidence of impairment.  The Prohibitionists still control our State, and all its organs are being bent to the task of propagandizing the lie that the use of cannabis impairs driving.  People are being falsely convicted of driving while impaired as fast as the State can, and our idiot Governor is determined to swell their ranks into a tidal wave.  There is no evidence that 5 ng of THC per ml of blood impairs driving, and no reason to believe that declaring that it does, stopping drivers and demanding their blood, hiring an army of new, so-called Drug Recognition Experts, making millionaires out of those who run drug-testing firms, and sending even more cannabis-users into our bloated, criminal injustice system would save even one life on Colorado's highways, but it's going to do wonders for bureaucrats, cops, and blood-testers in a recession, and Pete Coors and all the other alcohol-pushers will owe Hypocrite Hick an enormous debt.  To Colorado's brewers (and distillers, and bars, and anyone who wants to sell alcohol):  The Heat is Off.

The War on Drugs is comparable to other historical scapegoatings such as the trials and burnings of purported witches in pre-Enlightenment Europe and the pogroms against Jews, but in its scale and in terms of its attempts to rationalize its malefic impulse, more frightening and destructive.  Anyone who wants a front-row seat as Colorado takes the lead in codifying the dim fears of the few and hopes for employment of Colorado's professional parasites into an entirely harmful law should attend the next session of the Colorado General Assembly and watch our recent choice for governor posture. 

P.S.  It is easy to update your voter information online:  https://www.sos.state.co.us/Vo...

I used the link to leave Hick's party -- you can too!

Leave the fascist parties, but tell their partisans and the Governor that they are wrong.

Guest Who
Guest Who

still waiting for my Precedent.

Its more dangerous to eat soul food before you drive. 

demilo
demilo

The guy was on xanax, valium and percs too.... Im gonna go ahead and say that was the issue. It's sad that something like this happens and amidst all the "legal" drugs in his system MMJ gets the hit in the headlines. 

YMMV
YMMV

Let's see them prove driving while high in a courtroom.  Exactly what are the limits?  .07 BAC is the starting point for alcohol.  If there is no universally agreed standard, what is the CSP using to prove someone is intoxicated on marijuana?   Serious question.

Pete
Pete

No agreed on standard as MJ not really comparable to alcohol in blood tests.  MJ stays in your blood for about a month but only impairs for 2-12 hours (depending on how it was consumed- edibles lasting longer).  Read the Westwood story by William Breathes on his MJ blood tests to really get the idea.  He had a sober baseline THC level that was above the proposed state limit being debated.  A better approach would be to enact a legal limit above a person's baseline level.  That would require holding people for at least 12 hours to establish their sober THC baseline levels.  Not a real elegant solution.  More research is needed to crack this nut!

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Well the government of Colorado is not in the business of representing it's citizens it in the business of instilling fear in its citizens so we will shut up and do whatever the Government tells us to do.  Because if the government says it's a problem the it's a problem damn the science.

And what is the definition of terrorism again?  Oh Yeah "The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims." Remember the HEAT IS ON!

ericthemadman
ericthemadman

First off, just because I recently medicated does not mean I am impaired!!  The amounts of Oxycontin I used to take just to make it through the day would knock most folks on their a$$, for me I was fine and drove to work everyday - NOT impaired.  Same with cannabis....

Do they think any of this will stop us....forget & get over it!!!!

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Excellent point Eric.  The only way to stop this madness is to implement a real road-side impairment test.  It's not like the technology is too difficult or expensive - you could probably do it with an Xbox and TV screen.  The real problem is that government officials have no interest in solving problems.  They just want to give the perception that they are "doing something", regardless of whether that something has any positive impact.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

They could have us stare into a kaleidoscopeband if we say "ooh", "ahh", or "wow man", we would be considered stoned. If not, well, then we're obviously not stoned enough.

SB420EVALS
SB420EVALS

SOMEONE STOLE THE SIGN????? YES!!!!!! NOW THATS FUNNY...PEOPLE DRIVE BETTER UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MJ. PROVEN FACT. BUT HEY, OUR JAILS AREN'T CROWDED ENOUGH LETS THROW SOME MORE ON THE PILE...

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

I  called the tip line and told them I just saw it over that way <------>

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

Who ever took the billboard has the right idea!

Maybe it was one of the "anonymous."

Bob
Bob

They should concentrate their efforts on druged and drunk cops.  Seems like they have turned their heads long enough

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

WOW! Cops that can actually spot who's medicated and who's not! That's the best thing since "see thru glasses." Just like walking down the street and being able to see who is wearing underwear, the medi-pot-cops can actually walk down the street and actually pick out the medicated from the crowd. Just fu*k**g amazing this new technology!

Guest Who
Guest Who

that shit cracks me up.

I tend to be choking on smoke when I drive me car, I wonder if they will start pulling over people coughing their lungs out lol. 

tyler durden
tyler durden

It's called Visine and a breath mint.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

There's also ptosis -- do you have a specific for that?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Love the post, LarryQ5. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I normally take like 10 huge bong rips of hash and weed before I hit the road.  Having chronic hip and groin pain makes driving painful.  Living in the mountains, most drives are at least 30 minutes to go just about anywhere, and I couldn't do it without cannabis.  Cannabis helps me to focus, takes away the pain, and takes the edge off when driving fast around dangerous mountain turns with an abundance of tourists.  Cannabis in 20 years of driving high has never lead to impairing my ability to drive and always keeps driving pain free and fun!

seriously?
seriously?

While the dangers, or lack of, driving high are debatable, and while it is my opinion that high drivers aren't as dangerous and the drunk ones, it is INCREDIBLY stupid to admit to committing a crime on a public forum, especially when someone can access your contact info by clicking on your screen name.  While driving stoned may be one of your strengths, it is quite clear that THINKING while stoned is not.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I disagree, I'm not admitting to crime and hope that an honest response will ilicit more responses only. Furthermore in the US no one has ever been charged for what they said in a forum. You need to chill brah It's Friday!

seriously?
seriously?

You may not be charged over what you say online, however what you say online can sometimes be admissible as evidence against you should you get busted.  That's common knowledge in the legal community, and an honest response.  You're right, however.  I need to chill.  I just cracked open the Chivas Regal and hit the "ON" button on my vaporizer.  By the way, my vaporizer is supposed to be for "aromatic products and tobacco, only."  Hee hee.

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

A badge is not a license to practice medicine or torture people.  This approach to working with us as Cannabis patients will only result in the complete embarrassment of law enforcement.  If they want to take this route, so be it.  Law enforcement is no longer here to protect and serve the public, but it is here to carry out the corporate interests of corporate "people."

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The problem with this campaign is that it mixes truth and falsehood.  The State has the legal tools to convict people of driving while intoxicated because they have used cannabis -- it has been doing so, and it is ramping up its persecution of people who use cannabis by means of the DUID laws.  This campaign benefits no one in Colorado but the vast apparatus of Prohibition and the disgusting, self-agrandizing parasites we have cut into permanent, government jobs promoting it, as well as the enormous alcohol industry in Colorado.  The diversion of attention and concern from the use of alcohol before driving to focus on cannabis is entirely irrational and it can only harm public safety on the roads.  Our alcohol-pushing Governor is only too happy to run interference for his fellow poisoners by pushing more anti-cannabis legislation wholly unsupported by science (this is when he's not running interference for the natural gas industry -- with Democrats like that, who needs Republicans?)

Scott Greene
Scott Greene

I get it now... That why there's a slightly covered up billboard sitting in the corner of your living room! 

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

Let's send green apple flavored Jolly Rancher's to all of the politicians and law enforcement and watch what happens.

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