Denver, CO

State officials want to slam the brakes on driving high after deaths rise

Matt Whittaker

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An anti-buzzed driving ad in Toronto, Canada.Cory Doctorow/Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) With the Mile High 420 festival underway in Denver, the Colorado Department of Transportation and AAA Colorado want to remind people that driving high is dangerous.

Fatalities involving an impaired driver on Colorado roads have increased 44 percent since 2019, according to CDOT.

"While alcohol remains the most common impairing substance, marijuana impairment and marijuana in combination with alcohol impairment are significant contributors to the problem," the department said.

According to CDOT, ways to prevent impaired driving include:

  • Using alternate transportation like rideshare, buses or trains to get to your destination,
  • Understanding the risks of mixing cannabis and alcohol, which significantly increases impairment even if you’re below the legal limits for alcohol and THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana,
  • Understanding that while THC impairment is different from that produced by alcohol, it still increases the risk of a crash by slowing your reaction time, among other factors.

The warnings come as the festival returns to Denver after a two-year hiatus because of pandemic-related restrictions. The party was expected to draw more than 50,000 attendees to Civic Center Park in downtown Denver.

The Mile High 420 organizers note on the festival website that marijuana, under Colorado State Law, cannot be consumed publicly. But organizers and law enforcement agencies realize people may consume marijuana or other substances, so they anticipate drug consumption during the festival.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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