Marijuana plants.

Credit: Jennifer Martin/Wikimedia Commons

DOT Wants To Stop Drivers High On Pot Before They Get Started

August 10, 2017

Legal recreational marijuana is slated to go on sale in the state in less than a year. And the state's Department of Transportation is launching an education and enforcement campaign to keep people from driving while high.

The DOT's campaign includes TV ads reminding people — especially younger adults — that using marijuana and driving is dangerous and illegal.

Jeff Larson, the DOT's director of highway safety, says DOT ran two focus groups before the campaign with men under the age of 34. Larson says almost all the young men said that they were "perfectly comfortable driving a car under the influence of marijuana; whereas, they said universally that they were not comfortable doing that with alcohol."

Larson says the educational part of the campaign aims to change that thinking — to get pot users to treat getting high the same way they'd treat getting drunk. He says he wants to see marijuana users "plan ahead, get a safe ride home, find a designated driver, take a taxi." And he adds, "an impairment is an impairment."

Though pot will soon be legal, driving while high won't be. In the enforcement part of its campaign, the DOT plans to help police with funding for patrols and checkpoints.

Still, enforcement could be complicated — as of now there's no reliable test to prove that someone is high on pot.

Recreational marijuana shops are expected to open in the spring of 2018.

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