Earlier this week the department’s Twitter feed urged “potheads” to stock up on Mountain Dew and Cheetos before Friday, so as to avoid being pulled over for toking and driving while on a munchies run. It also suggested the presence of cheese-flavored orange dust on a driver’s fingers could be viewed as “evidence.”
Then, just when it looked as if the person running the department’s Twitter account was having fun, another went out at the behest of a humorless boss reminding everyone that the department was not endorsing marijuana. This tweet, it should be noted, was not wholly coherent.
On Thursday, Massachusetts State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett also sent out a warning to anyone who might think about driving under the influence. “The state is asking drivers to be on high alert,” WBZ-TV in Boston reported, noting the origin of 4/20 could be traced to a California high school in the 1970s because 4:20 p.m. was the time when a bunch of students met each day to get high.
“Driving while impaired is both dangerous and illegal,” Bennett was quoted by WBZ as saying. “Driver responsibility plays a huge role in keeping our roads safe — whether we’re talking about marijuana or alcohol — and we want to remind drivers not to take the wheel if they are impaired in any way.”
The Fargo, N.D., police department even offered an unspecified reward to the person with the most marijuana and invited any candidates to visit them at headquarters.
(Cheech says: Don’t, man.)
The warnings, whether voiced seriously or in jest, are yet another sign of the trend toward legalization and broader acceptance of marijuana as a social drug. They also come as safety advocates worry April 20 — honored as the high holiday for cannabis enthusiasts because the date aligns with the hour of day when an herbal cocktail is in order — could increase the number of traffic crashes.
The Journal of the American Medical Association, in a report published this month, said the risk of a fatal crash between 4:20 and 11:59 p.m. April 20 is significantly higher than on other days. The study, which used 25 years of data since the magazine High Times first popularized 4/20, says the risk is particularly acute for younger drivers. The result is striking, given that 4/20 is hardly celebrated as widely as New Year’s Eve — and yet the authors say the increase is about the same as the increase seen on the day of the Super Bowl.
It is not just today, of course. Now that eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana, safety advocates worry that more people will be driving stoned. Of the victims tested for drugs after fatal crashes, nearly 36 percent were found to have marijuana in their system, according to a 2017 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
The good thing is just as for New Year’s Eve or Cinco de Mayo, some businesses and groups have stepped up to educate people and offer discounted rides, such as Lyft and Uber, the Cannabist reports. Party on.
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