State Launches Campaign Against Marijuana-Impaired Driving

BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts authorities are making new efforts to warn people about the dangers of driving while high on marijuana – and to catch those who do.

The education and enforcement campaign announced Wednesday is called “Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over.”

“We’re not here to demonize users of marijuana,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regional administrator Art Kinsman.

But, he added, “this isn’t like a Cheech and Chong movie.”

Undersecretary of Public Safety Jennifer Quealy says pot can really have an impact, “slowing driver reaction time, negatively affecting a driver’s decision-making ability, impairing motor coordination, and distorting perception.”

There will be a public awareness campaign with advertisements on radio, TV, and billboards.

“Even before legalization, marijuana and marijuana-type drugs were the most common type of drugs found in people killed in car crashes from 2010 to 2014 in Massachusetts,” Quealy said.

The ads will be modeled on similar programs that have run in Colorado since marijuana was legalized there.

In addition to the education component, there will be increased patrols and checkpoints on the lookout for high drivers.

“It is not OK to drive if you’ve been smoking marijuana,” said State Police Colonel Richard McKeon.

The campaign includes more money for enforcement.

Police made it clear at the press conference that, though there is no “marijuana breathalyzer,” officers have been trained on how to detect impairment in the field.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

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