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After Legalizing Pot, Colorado Tries To Stop Stoned Driving

Starting March 10, the state will begin airing television ads designed to keep citizens from driving while high.

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Not driving okay. Paramount Pictures

By Shawn Dwyer

03/07/14

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Like driving drunk, the state of Colorado views driving under the influence of marijuana as serious offense. But a new ad campaign set to be released next week actually pokes fun at the problem.

Spearheaded by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign will spend $1 million on television ads that take a humorous approach to preventing drivers from getting behind the wheel stoned. The ads are centered around stoners unable to effectively perform regular activities like playing basketball or hanging a flat-screen TV properly. One ad shows a backyard cook trying to light a grill without realizing he’s missing the propane tank and features the tagline, “Grilling high is now legal. Driving to get the propane you forgot isn't.”

"Enforcement is very important when it comes to impaired driving, but education is equally important," said Bob Ticer, the police chief of Avon, CO and the chairman of Colorado's Interagency Task Force on Drunk Driving.

It remains uncertain, however, just how serious a problem driving high has been or will be in the state, since the Colorado State Patrol just began keeping track of stoned drivers this January. But of the 61 impaired drivers arrested so far, 31 were found to be under the influence of marijuana. Colorado’s companion in legalizing recreational pot, Washington, has been keeping track and saw more than 1,300 drivers test positive for marijuana last year – a 25 percent increase from 2012. And that’s before their legal weed law has been implemented.

Colorado will also air a Spanish language ad that features the line, “When you use marijuana, don’t drive.” Meanwhile, dispensary owners have played a part in getting the word out by hanging “Drive High, Get a DUI” posters in their stores.

The state’s $1 million ad campaign was funded with a federal grant from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Watch a local news report on the new campaign:

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