In March of this year, the state of Colorado will launch a new campaign to warn motorists against driving under the influence of cannabis. The campaign will be funded by a grant of more than $400,000 (USD) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Colorado is one of two U.S. states that have legalized the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Although the drug is still illegal at the federal level, federal officials recognize that cannabis is a traffic safety issue that needs to be addressed, according to a spokeswoman from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Cannabis was a factor in more than 1,000 DUI cases in Colorado in 2012.

The new campaign will use television and print ads to alert the public to the dangers of impaired driving and warn that offenders will face similar penalties to those caught driving under the influence of alcohol. New DUI laws in Colorado specify that drivers are considered to be impaired if their blood contains 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of active Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes cannabis’s psychoactive effects, at the time of driving.

The cannabis industry has been largely supportive of the campaign. “The Colorado Department of Transportation and the industry want to stress the importance of using this newly legalized drug in a safe manner,” said Mike Elliot, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. Cannabis users and owners of cannabis shops have also been helping shape the campaign by participating in focus groups.

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