A new campaign aimed at stopping drivers from getting behind the wheel high is rolling out across the United States this morning.
The new campaign titled “If you Feel Different, You Drive Different” is part of a coordinated push by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was planned to roll out this week following the 4-20 holiday — the new campaign features a public service announcement, but there’s also a push to spread safety tips, and real discussion about the influence of marijuana on drivers.
According to NHTSA's last national roadside survey, from 2007-2013 there was a 48% increase in weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for the presence of cannabis.
In Michigan, NHTSA noted an increase of 44% for all crashes and 56% for fatalities over that same five-year period.
7 Action News went to The REEF Detroit, a dispensary on 8 Mile near Van Dyke, to discuss the move.
Rush Hasan, head of business development and operations, said that it’s a move that’s welcomed by the industry. He noted that even before Michigan mandated specialized labeling that warned against operating heavy machinery, or driving, that they were putting warnings on products.
“All I can do is compare it to other regulated industries,” said Hasan. “We definitely want to be publicly conscious of negative side effects. As a brand, yes, we stand behind that brand and say, ‘Use responsibly.' We want to understand the negative effects and the pros/cons of what it is that you’re using.”
Hasan said he expects to see even more discussions about safety as recreational use comes to the forefront — though legal in Michigan, sale of recreational marijuana still isn’t happening at a business level. He said as those changes are implemented, more discussion will come, too.
“You already see more of that in places like California,” he said.
As for NHTSA, the new campaign officially came onboard Tuesday morning. NHTSA is planning to make a push discussing the campaign in local communities throughout the morning as the commercials begin to air on local television.