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CannaBiz: CDOT's take on MMJ 

Smoke and heat

One image shows an enlarged picture of a green eye with a dilated pupil, and text on the side that reads, "You can't hide driving under the influence of cannabis." Another shows bud spilling out of a pill container onto a red card with the statement, "A medical marijuana card isn't a license to drive under the influence."

The ads, created in part with feedback from MMJ-knowledgeable focus groups, are part of the Colorado Department of Transportation's new effort to include drugged driving — in all its forms, but also targeting medical marijuana patients — in its "Heat Is On" campaign, says Glenn Davis.

"The campaign is to make people aware that we have people trained to detect [drug use], and we're asking them to make the right choices," says the department's manager of impaired driving programs. He adds, "People aren't stopped for drugged driving, they're stopped for a traffic offense. And then as the officer makes a contact, that's where he may see the outward manifestations."

As for signs of marijuana use, the officer's generally looking for "a real distinct odor of burning marijuana ... the pupils are dilated [and] there's reddening of the eyes."

Davis says the focus on MMJ patients was driven by stats that show that, while drug-related traffic fatalities have decreased from 85 in 2006 to 62 in 2010, fatalities involving cannabis have increased from 27 to 36 over the same time frame.

Across the state, the increase in attention to MMJ users also appeared via a "drug enforcement checkpoint" administered by the Westminster Police Department on Aug. 9. Westword reports the department executed two drug-related arrests, including the seizure of over 4½ pounds of marijuana.

"CDOT doesn't have any position on medical marijuana," Davis says. "We [just] want to make people aware that if you drive impaired — it doesn't matter whether it's alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs or cannabis — if you drive impaired, you will get caught."

Keef crumbs

• Keeping an eye on the prosecution of Colorado Springs resident Bob Crouse, Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patient Rights president Audrey Hatfield says the 63-year-old leukemia patient's next step is a motion hearing in October and a trial in December. After a mix-up with his patient paperwork, Crouse is being charged with two felonies: cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

• The political scene in Fort Collins this November should look familiar to Springsians, as the city will vote whether or not to ban the 21 MMJ centers currently operating, reports the Denver Post.

  • Also: Checking in with Bob Crouse.

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