(SAN DIEGO) – SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a 501 c-3 nonprofit organization, launched “High Means DUI” today to combat the growing perception that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe. The campaign, which launched in San Diego this week and will be unveiled across the nation, will encompass a website, toolkit for community-based organizations, stories of the tragic consequences of driving while high, billboards, and artwork for use by local groups. The campaign also aims to support policies that reduce the prevalence of driving while high.
“The reckless marijuana industry has rushed to profit from highly-potent THC products, but they have done nothing to prevent or address the high prevalence of marijuana-impaired driving,” said Kevin A. Sabet, President and CEO of SAM, a group co-founded by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy. “Decision makers often don’t know where to go on this issue, so we wanted to elevate its importance and get this issue on the national agenda. We have made incredible strides with drunk driving over the past few decades, but little attention has focused on marijuana-impaired driving, especially because THC can impair a driver long after one feels intoxicated.”
Parents and loved ones who have lost family and friends to drivers impaired by marijuana will join public safety advocates and other concerned citizens at a press conference in San Diego on Tuesday. The campaign’s goals are to raise awareness about drugged driving and dangers of driving under the influence of THC and to advocate for sensible marijuana driving policies that promote road safety.
“I think that making the public aware about the danger of marijuana impaired driving is so important because I don’t want another family to suffer the devastating loss my family and our community have felt,” said Corinne LaMarca Gasper, an Ohio mother whose daughter was killed by a marijuana impaired driver.
“It’s time the voices of victims are heard,” said Dana Stevens, SAM’s Grassroots and Field Coordinator, who is in charge of the campaign. “There are thousands of victims due to marijuana on the roadways every year, and we intend to help amplify their voice.”
States that have approved either medical marijuana and/or commercial, legal marijuana have experienced a rapid increase in traffic crashes and fatalities where marijuana was a factor, including:
- Marijuana was the #1 drug in the US found by Drug Recognition Experts in 2015 (2015 Annual DRE Report)
- Marijuana related traffic deaths increased 66% since Colorado legalized pot (2013-2016) (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 2006-2011 and Colorado Department of Transportation 2012-2016)
- Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)