Survey: Young Coloradans More Likely to Use Cannabis & Drive

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Drivers age 18-24 use marijuana more than twice as often as drivers in other age groups and are more than twice as likely to report driving high in the last 30 days, according to a survey of cannabis users in Colorado.

In fact, 1 out of 5 Gen Z drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel at least once a month within two hours of using cannabis. And more one-third felt they could drive safely under the influence of cannabis.

A generation comfortable with cannabis

Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Colorado since November 2012. Consequently, “Generation Z is the first generation of Coloradans who have grown up in a state where recreational cannabis is legal,” the state’s Department of Transportation said in an announcement of its survey results.

While the survey found that just 8% of all survey respondents admitted to driving within two hours of using cannabis, 20% of Gen Z drivers had done so.

Additionally, the survey revealed:

  • 37% of Gen Z cannabis users said they could drive safely under the influence of the drug.
  • Only 22% of respondents thought a police officer would likely be able to tell if a driver had consumed cannabis at a traffic stop.
  • 19% of respondents said they’d used cannabis in the past 30 days.

“Cannabis has been legal my whole adult life,” one 25-year-old respondent said. “My friends and I prefer marijuana to alcohol — times have changed.”

Colorado cannabis laws

Just as with alcohol, Colorado state law sets a limit on how high is too high to drive.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the substance in marijuana that causes impairment. In Colorado, drivers with 5 nanograms of THC per millimeter of whole blood can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Depending on how drivers consume cannabis, and how much they take, they should wait at least six to eight hours — or longer — before getting behind the wheel, the state advises. THC can lower reaction time, undermine problem-solving skills, and reduce a driver’s ability to focus, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Consequences of a cannabis DUI

Driving high in Colorado carries the same safety, legal, and financial risks as driving drunk.

“Driving is a complex task that requires your full attention to stay safe and alert,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Marijuana affects areas of the brain that control your body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment.”

Motorists charged with driving under the influence of THC in Colorado face a high probability of conviction. Of those charged with driving under the influence of THC, 92% were convicted of the offense, according to a 2022 report by the state’s Division of Criminal Justice.

Further, a DUI conviction can substantially increase car insurance rates for three to five years. For example, the average cost of full-coverage car insurance in Colorado is $208 per month, according to Insurify data. The average for Colorado drivers with a DUI conviction, though, is $322.

What’s next?

Colorado’s Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, and certified driving schools continue to partner to elevate awareness of the dangers of driving high, including impairment of critical driving abilities, DUI charges, and other consequences.

“Young consumers are cord-cutters. They consume news and information differently than before, but they’re not the only people we need to reach,” said Sam Cole, safety communications manager at CDOT. “There are many people across all demographics, age groups, socioeconomic statuses, and locations [who] we still need to convince that driving high is dangerous and illegal.”

This article originally appeared on Insurify and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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