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Almost 40 percent of Gen-Z say they can safely drive while high on marijuana, state report finds

COLORADO, USA. (KRDO) - A new state survey from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reveals that young Colorado drivers believe they can drive safely while high on marijuana. 

The CDOT report, released Monday, February 5, surveyed 1,000 residents in 2023. It explains that "Gen-Z", the demographic of people aged 16 to 24, are not only much more likely to consume cannabis compared to the average driver in Colorado but also drive a vehicle, while high.

It goes on to add that 20% of Gen-Z-aged drivers reported they had driven within two hours of getting high, at least once within the last month, compared to 7% of all older demographics. The report also claims that 37% of Gen-Z feel they could drive safely, after getting high.

"That's really alarming to us, and it's perhaps a wakeup call for us to double down on our efforts to reach out to young cannabis consumers," says Sam Cole, a Traffic Safety Manager with CDOT.

He goes on to explain that from state-wide law enforcement data, the state was able to determine that 62.5% of Gen-Z drivers who were arrested for DUI, tested positive for cannabis in their system.

In 2023 Colorado Springs Police recorded 22 DUIDs due to the detection of marijuana, which is the lowest amount recorded since 2015, the year after marijuana was legalized in Colorado.

"Young drivers in their late teens and twenties are the most dangerous on our roadways, generally. They're less likely to buckle up, they're more likely to be on their phones, and they're more likely to drive under the influence of whatever," said Cole.

It's because of trends like these, that the state is launching a new initiative in April, adding to their existing campaigns against impaired driving.

"We have a new campaign called Meet the Effects. [It's] all the different effects that cannabis has on your ability to drive, whether it be [that it] impairs your perception of time, distance and speed, or your ability to have divided attention. In other words, you read the road sign as you're trying to drive in a straight line down the road." said Cole.

Colorado law says that any driver with 5 nanograms or more of THC in their system, can be prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).

A first offense alone for a DUID can mean up to a year in jail, hundreds of dollars in fines, and up to 9 months of a suspended license.

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Tyler Cunnington

Tyler is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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