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Driving While High? CDOT, State Troopers Are Ready

Stephen Swofford
Colorado Public News

As Colorado enters its first full weekend with legal recreational marijuana, the Colorado State Patrol is reminding motorists that while it’s now legal to smoke pot, it’s still illegal to drive while high.

In the first few days of legal recreational marijuana in Colorado, pot shops -mostly in Denver, saw more than a million dollars in sales. With more people now able to access the drug, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol have been working to educate marijuana users about the dangers of driving impaired.

“We’ve had a seat at the table as CDOT and others determine how best to educate the public on safety issues, providing insight into how best to get the message out that impaired driving is illegal and dangerous,” said Mike Elliott, Executive Director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group in a written statement. “CDOT and the industry want to stress the importance of using this newly legalized drug in a safe manner.” 

Colorado State Trooper Josh Lewis said all Troopers are trained in the recognition of impaired driving due to marijuana and other drug use. And they’re ready for the possibility of more impaired drivers on the road this weekend.

“Ultimately not a whole lot has changed. We’re going to be looking for those unsafe driving actions, listening to people who call in and trying to find those vehicles proactively before they crash and do any type of damage in order to get anybody under the influence of anything off of the roadway,” Lewis said.

In addition to driving impaired, the CSP says it’s illegal to consume or display marijuana on any public roadway, have the drug in the passenger area of a vehicle in an open container or a container with a broken seal. 

“From the perspective of law enforcement, the legalization of recreational marijuana hasn’t changed the DUI law. If you drive high, you will get a DUI,” said Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Officers are trained to detect impairment of all substances—including marijuana.”

The Denver Post has put together answers for the 64 most commonly asked questions about the new recreational marijuana law.  You can read them here.

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