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Pot Brings More Cash—and DUIs—to Colorado

March 13, 2014
Personal Finance
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In a sign of the times, the Colorado Department of Transportation has released a series of humorous PSAs aimed at discouraging people from driving while high. One ad shows a big-haired stoner trying in vain to light his grill while party guests wait. “Grilling high is now legal,” the video says. “Driving to get the propane you forgot isn’t.” Or this video of a DIY installation of a big-screen TV gone wrong.

But CDOT says the issue is not a laughing matter. “In 2012, there were 630 drivers involved in 472 motor vehicle fatalities on Colorado roadways. Of the 630 drivers involved, 286 were tested for drugs,” the department said in a news release. “Nearly 27 percent of drivers tested had a positive drug test, with 12 percent testing positive for cannabis.”

Cannabis-related vehicle fatalities in Colorado climbed from 7.6% in 2006 to 17.3% in 2011, according to CDOT statistics. And all that was before recreational use of the drug was made legal.

Still, where some see danger, others smell opportunity. Hundreds of job seekers were expected Thursday at CannaSearch job fair in Denver, as marijuana-related companies seek “resumes—not reefer” to fill the ranks of the budding industry. Meanwhile, applications to the University of Colorado are up 30% since the state legalized pot, although the head of admissions says the spike is due to better recruitment.

But what isn’t in dispute is that more cash is coming into state coffers from marijuana. Weed sales topped $14 million in January, the first month on sale, raising some $2 million in tax revenue.

Illustration by Brian Yee