Cannabis Industry Reports Sales Increase 48% Around April 20 ‘celebration’

DALLAS – Ahead of the unofficial marijuana “celebration” on April 20, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reminds everyone to do their part to keep our roads and communities safe by always designating a driver who has not consumed marijuana, alcohol or any other impairing substances.

Forty states have legalized recreational or medical cannabis in recent years, and with it, 4/20 has grown in popularity. According to the cannabis industry, sales increase 48% in the days leading up to April 20, raising concerns about an increase in impaired driving, DUI arrests, injuries and fatalities.

“MADD wants to make sure everyone is aware of the risks of driving after consuming marijuana and any other mind-altering substance,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “The safest choice is to plan ahead for public transportation, rideshare, a taxi, a non-consuming, unimpaired friend or even walking, if that’s possible. We just want everyone to keep themselves, their families and friends, and their communities safe by committing to making the right choice.”

Last week, MADD joined the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and a coalition of cannabis industry leaders, spearheaded by Native Roots along with the Marijuana Industry Group, Wana Brands, kindColorado and Terrapin Care Station to ask the public to take a 4/20 safe driving pledge before the annual celebration. At the roundtable event in Denver, Polli Small described the heartbreak caused by an impaired driver who killed her 28-year-old son Ethan in 2019.

“Our son Ethan died an instant, violent death, and our lives changed forever — all because of one person’s choice to drive impaired,” Polli Small said. “Please make the smart choice to plan ahead for a safe ride home each and every time.”

According to a study published in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, people who have inhaled cannabis should wait at least five hours before performing safety tasks such as driving, and longer for those who have consumed edibles. Yet, a survey conducted for MADD by IPSOS in 2020 found that one in eight U.S. adults admits to having driven under the influence of marijuana within two hours after consuming. And as more states legalize marijuana use, 76% of those surveyed said they believe that incidents of driving after consuming marijuana will increase.

In Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of cannabis, a January report from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice found that of the 6,071 cases in 2019 with toxicology screens for marijuana, 52% tested positive for any cannabinoid, including Delta 9-THC (the primary psychoactive component of cannabis). An annual survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control shows nearly 18% of adult marijuana consumers drove within two to three hours of cannabis consumption in 2020.

“We know cannabis impairs reaction time and the effects can last anywhere from two to 10 hours or longer,” Otte said. “Just like with alcohol, the only thing that can counteract the effects of cannabis is time. That’s why it’s so important to leave your car at home on 4/20 and every time you plan to consume an impairing drug.”

According to Canadian researchers who studied 25 years of data on fatal crashes in the U.S., the risk of being in a fatal crash is 12% higher from 4:20 p.m. to midnight on April 20 compared to the same time one week earlier. For drivers younger than 21, the risk is 38% higher. The findings were published four years ago in a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

Contact: Becky Iannotta, becky.iannotta@madd.org