DENVER — As thousands of people descended upon Denver’s Civic Center Park to celebrate “420” on Thursday, April 20, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was among the crowd to educate attendees about the risks of driving high.
The number 420 is associated with marijuana use because of a code used by a group of Californian teenagers in the 1970s who smoked marijuana every day at 4:20 p.m. The code spread and became a symbol for marijuana culture and a date for celebration. The origin of 420 is not related to the California penal code or the number of active chemicals in marijuana, as some myths suggest.
Through a series of Trivial Pursuit-style quizzes and contests, CDOT engaged attendees with the goal of convincing them to stay off the road when they’ve been consuming cannabis, according to a news release.
Participants were given the chance to win rideshare credits for correctly answering questions about cannabis history, DUI laws and the physiological effects of cannabis on driving.
“We genuinely enjoy talking with attendees at this festival and helping to spread awareness about the impacts of driving high,” said Sam Cole, CDOT communications manager. “It’s important to us to be here and continue encouraging people to be safe on Colorado roads.”
CDOT, which first launched a drugged driving public safety campaign in 2014 following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, has championed efforts to raise awareness about the issue. This included a two-year public engagement campaign called the Colorado Cannabis Conversation, which heard from over 20,000 cannabis consumers on their beliefs and attitudes towards marijuana and driving.
More recently CDOT launched an online training course for cannabis industry workers on the Learn Brands platform.
Budtenders are one of the most trusted sources of safety information for cannabis consumers, but it’s important they are well-informed on the issue. Since April 2022, 557 cannabis-industry workers have completed the course, which is now available to the general public.
“It’s an ongoing challenge to move the needle in the right direction on the issue of marijuana-impaired driving,” said Cole. “Along with the general public, as new cannabis consumers continue to age into the population, we always have a new audience to educate.”
CDOT’s message comes as Colorado experiences an increase in impaired driving fatalities.
As of 2022, about one-third of all fatalities on Colorado roads involve an impaired driver. Deaths involving a driver who tested above the legal limit for active THC increased 58% between 2020 and 2021. And since 2019, deaths in Colorado involving a driver impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two have increased by almost 60%.
While alcohol remains the most common impairing substance, marijuana impairment and marijuana in combination with alcohol are significant contributors to the problem. In an analysis of DUI case filings in 2019, 68% of individuals with detected Delta-9 THC also had another substance present. Alcohol was the most common co-occurring substance.
The Mile High 420 Festival is the largest gathering of cannabis consumers in Colorado, and CDOT has participated in the event since 2016.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.