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'Drive High, Get a DUI': Colorado rolls out ads to combat stoned driving

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A $1 million ad campaign by Colarado takes aim at stoned driving. (CDOT/YouTube)

A man is thrilled after hanging a flat-screen television on his living room wall, waltzing over to the kitchen to grab snacks.

And then, like the tortilla chip in his mouth, the TV shatters into pieces, after falling to the floor.

"Installing your TV while high is now legal," says the ad, but, "driving to get a new one isn't."

According to USA Today, it is one of three advertisements in a "Drive High, Get a DUI" campaign by Colorado to combat stoned driving, since the state started selling recreational marijuana on Jan. 1.

Washington is the only other state where recreational pot is legalized, and it plans to begin selling it this year, USA Today reported.

"As Coloradans now have more access to marijuana, we want them to be aware that law enforcement is trained to identify impairment by all categories of drugs and alcohol," Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said in a statement.

In another advertisement, a man continues to dribble a basketball on the court as other players look on impatiently. A third ad features a man trying to turn on the grill, not realizing the propane tank is missing. 

The ads use humour to remind drivers not to use marijuana and get behind the wheel.

The approach is receiving kudos online, but not everyone is impressed, some saying the ads exaggerate behaviour and ridicule pot smokers.

"Hey CDOT, if you want marijuana consumers to listen to you, I'd suggest talking to them like the rational, normal adults they are instead of insulting them," wrote one YouTube user.

"I understand that in order to make a point you're going to want to exaggerate things a bit but isn't this clearly going too far," another commenter wrote on YouTube.

"Any logical, reasonable person should be able to see how this is a fraudulent, misleading, and flat-out insulting representation of pot smokers, right?"

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, it is illegal to drive with five nanograms of active THC per millilitre of blood. Those who do can be prosecuted for driving under the influence.

But as USA Today reported, it is difficult to discern how much marijuana that is.

"One hit could put someone over the limit," CDOT spokesperson Emily Wilfong told USA Today Network, adding that there are other ways to consume marijuana. 

"For instance, edibles can take up to two hours before someone even starts to feel the effects."

Wilfong said the campaign wants to make it clear that driving high is considered impaired driving. 

A state-wide count of stoned driving is tricky to accurately tally, The Associated Press reported.

Since it started keeping count in January, the Colorado State Patrol recorded 31 marijuana-impaired drivers out of 61 total drivers impaired by any type of drug or alcohol, according to AP.

In an interview with USA Today Network, Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, said it remains unclear whether the five-nanogram limit precisely depicts impairment, adding that it may result in drivers who are not impaired being convicted of a DUI. 

According to AP, the ad campaign cost $1 million and is funded by a federal grant from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

What do you think of the ads? What do you think of the comical approach? Is it effective? Why or why not? 

Tags: Advertising, Colorado, Driving, DUI, Marijuana

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