The United States has spent, undoubtedly, millions of dollars on ads against drunk driving. For decades, there has been an intense focus on keeping intoxicated imbibers of alcohol from getting behind the wheel. Such campaigns have existed in all media formats – radio, TV, print, posters, and even the Internet. Now, it seems there is a whole new cache of “green” going towards a similar concept. However this time, it’s not alcohol being targeted. Along with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado come cautionary ad campaigns warning smokers against driving while high. It seems in the first slew of attempts to prevent stoners from getting behind the wheel, humor is being utilized.
This Thursday, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) released details of its “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign. Roughly one million dollars is being spent on television promos that actually chide pot smokers for exuding irresponsible traits, such as not paying attention and making “stupid” mistakes. In one ad, a basketball player repetitively dribbles the ball without an awareness of his surroundings. In another commercial, a man attempts to hang a flat screen television, only to watch it fall and smash to pieces. In a third ad, another man attempts to use his gas grill, all the while not realizing he has no propane tank (see video below).
What these commercials are intending to show may be the carelessness which pot smokers legendarily exhibit. For example, if all the aforementioned blunders commonly abound amongst stoners, then what will happen when one of them attempts to get behind the wheel? According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, that’s when the law is broken. Moreover, the state authorities are attempting to dismantle a rumor that driving while high has no negative impact, nor does it improve driving ability. According to a CDOT spokesperson, there is a belief amongst some that “…[smoking marijuana] actually made them a better driver…” While the state of Colorado now campaigns against high driving, it does not attack the actual laws that allow for the legalization of cannabis.
This past January, with the recent legalization of marijuana, Colorado police began keeping records regarding incidents of drivers busted for being high while behind the wheel. It was found that, since then, marijuana smokers account for half of all impaired drivers that were found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The campaign, which officially begins March 10th, is funded by a grant from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. There will also be Spanish versions of the new ads as well.
Notable, is the help marijuana dispensaries have offered up to the CDOT. Not only have these retailers helped with the actual ad concepts, but they have readily agreed to hand out campaign brochures and hang related posters on the walls of their locales. Vice Chairwoman of Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Industry Group and dispensary worker, Elan Nelson, is apparently aware of her “…duty to be a part of the [Driving Under the Influence of Drugs] conversation…” With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, comes the need for campaigns warning against driving while high – although it may cost taxpayers a pretty penny.
By Josh Taub
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Bellingham Herald