Yesterday, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) gathered volunteers in a hotel conference room and gave them cannabis edibles in order to improve traffic safety while law enforcement, cannabis professionals, and state leaders gathered and observed.
The workshop was part of training by CDOT in order to educate workers in the cannabis industry on the signs of impairment while driving.
Volunteers dosed themselves with cannabis to demonstrate its effects, especially on driving. During the demonstration, volunteers ingested fast-acting THC edibles to varying levels of impairment. The volunteers then underwent a mock roadside sobriety assessment by law enforcement to demonstrate to industry members and others in attendance how officers detect impairment. All attendees were given the opportunity to evaluate the volunteers to highlight their own observations of impairment. The volunteers were given Lyft ride credit to get to and home from the event safely.
“CDOT deeply values our partners in the cannabis industry and their willingness to work alongside us to help keep Coloradans safe,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT. “Research shows that the cannabis industry has the most positive and significant influence on cannabis consumers, so we felt it was important for them to see firsthand the indications of impairment and how those symptoms can create a dangerous situation on our roadways.”
The workshop comes as impaired driving increases in Colorado. In 2022, more people were killed on Colorado roads than at any time in recent history with 760 lives lost. About one-third of those deaths involved an impaired driver. Although alcohol is usually the common cause of impairment, drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested above the legal limit for active THC increased from 50 in 2020 to 79 in 2021. Since 2019, deaths involving an impaired driver from all substances have increased by almost 60%.
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to cannabis-impaired driving,” said Glenn Davis of CDOT’s Highway Safety Office. “Our goal is to give folks in the industry the knowledge and tools to keep their patrons safe by steering them away from risky behaviors like driving high.”
On April 12, CDOT also hosted a “Green Lab” cannabis-impairment training for law enforcement. This was the first-ever CDOT ARIDE training with participants who consumed cannabis on hand for law enforcement to evaluate. Seventeen officers participated from agencies including Boulder County Sheriff Office, Brighton Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, and the Denver Police Department.