- Courtesy CDOT
- Lyft vouchers may have made 4/20 a little bit safer for everybody.
Marijuana-related DUIs are down 33 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same stretch of 2016, according to data from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). From January through March 2016, 232 people were cited for driving under the influence of marijuana only. During the same period this year, the number went down to 155. In first quarter 2016, 69 were cited for driving under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol; 50 in 2017.
That DUIs are down is good by any measure, but CDOT is still worried about people driving while stoned — and for good reason. A 2016 CDOT survey showed 55 percent of marijuana users think it's OK to be high behind the wheel. In response, the agency ramped up its "Drive High, Get a DUI" campaign to really drill the message into Coloradans' brains.
On April 20, CDOT partnered with the ride-share company Lyft to offer partakers a deal (not just a lecture). That day, anyone who was too high to drive and who found a "Mile 420" highway sign could redeem its promo code for a $42 credit to use for rides from Lyft. (Recall that after Colorado legalized recreational weed, the real "Mile 420" sign on Interstate 70 was stolen so many times that CDOT replaced it with "Mile 419.99" sign. So, this was a chance to get your hands on a replica of that piece of history.)
MassRoots, a cannabis-themed social platform, and the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), the state's biggest marijuana industry association, both supported the initiative as well. In a statement, MIG executive director Kristi Kelly said, "Today is a chance for us to celebrate the progress of legal cannabis. This day isn't just about ourselves, it's about our responsibility as the first taxed and regulated state to demonstrate that legalization and regulation works, for those who don't yet have this protection.
"Businesses, activists, advocates, and visitors have an opportunity to be an example as the country, and the world, watch. No matter who you are, or how you celebrate, we all ask that you do it responsibly. And if you consume, plan ahead and don't drive impaired — today, tomorrow, and beyond."
According to a CDOT press release, those signs were hidden around two major 420 celebrations in Denver: "420 Eve on the Rocks: Method Man & Redman" at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on April 19 and "420 on the Block" at a bunch of different venues on South Broadway on April 20. Lyft staffers were also there, passing out vouchers (which would seem to defeat the treasure hunt vibe of the mile marker gimmick).
All this is well and good — for public safety, Lyft's bottom line and catchy blog posts — but why does everything gotta be so Denver-centric? Does CDOT think every stoner lives in Denver? When is the Springs gonna get some patronizing, deal-baiting love? Not begging, you know, just wondering...
Anyway, despite the ride deals, we heard Denver's 420 festivities were sorta wack. That city's alt-weekly, Westword, reported that folks waited in stupidly long lines to enter Civic Center Park, where the biggest event was held, because there was only one entrance. Some people got so fed up they trampled chain-link fences to get in. Some buzz-killing gunshots also rang out near the event. (No one was hurt and two people were taken into custody.) Denver Police Department tallied 32 public consumption citations, to top it all off. Oh, and the park was trashed.
Here in the Springs, we've heard of no major incidents. Colorado Springs Police Department spokesperson Lt. Howard Black joked maybe it's because all the miscreants went to Denver for the day. Either way, give yourselves a round of applause.