CDOT and Lyft Start the Countdown to 4/20 by Rolling Out a Ride Plan

Kate McKee Simmons
A month from now, thousands will gather at Civic Center Park for the annual 4/20 cannabis celebration. On Monday, 3/20, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Lyft gathered at the same spot to launch a safe driving program — the 320 Movement.

In the month leading up to April 20, Lyft is offering discounted rides to encourage marijuana users to plan ahead for a safe ride home. It's branded seventeen cars, wrapping them in green with the message of the campaign, "plan a ride before you're high." There are seventeen cars in the fleet because 17 percent of Colorado State Patrol DUI arrests last year involved marijuana, according to CDOT spokesman Sam Cole.

If you order a Lyft between now and April 20, and one of these branded cars picks you up, you'll receive a $10 discount on your ride. Lyft is also releasing discount codes through every Sunday through the next month at 3:20 p.m. to promote the campaign; they'll be released on March 26, as well as April 2, 9 and 16.

"There's an awareness among people who are going out and having a good time with alcohol, but we are now in the early stages of creating that same proactive safety-first attitude when it comes to cannabis consumption," said Gabe Cohen, general manager of Lyft in Denver, at the rollout.

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Gabe Cohen wants to give Denver a Lyft
Kate McKee Simmons
In a survey conducted last year, 55 percent of marijuana users told CDOT that they believed it was safe to drive high; that was part of the inspiration behind this campaign. The 320 Movement is the newest part of CDOT's "Drive High, Get a DUI" campaign.

"People think about getting a Lyft when they're drunk, but they don't necessarily think about getting a Lyft when they're high. Impairment is impairment," Cole explained.

This is the first program of its kind in the country, but Cole envisions Lyft doing similar programs in other states where recreational cannabis is legal. "I would like to think wherever it is legal, this is the kind of awareness campaign we would want to do," he added. "We don't want this awareness campaign to end at 4/20. We will continue to promote the campaign's message."

Part of that continued engagement could be helping with the rollout of Denver's social consumption program. Last November, voters in Denver approved an initiative that will allow marijuana use at neighborhood-supported venues. The city's Social Consumption Advisory Committee has discussed impairment issues at length, and it's been suggested by multiple members that providing a safe-drive option might be beneficial.

"We could have a sober driver partnership with a company like Uber or Lyft that sends cars every hour or so to give people a safe ride home from these venues," committee member Emmett Reistroffer had suggested at one of the committee's meetings.

Although Lyft has not been in conversations with the city about that possibility, Cohen says Lyft would be open to the idea. "Some of our [highest demand] is when the bars let out, so you can imagine this will just contribute to that when social clubs let out," Cohen says. "My worry around those social clubs is you're going to have to drive and then what are you going to do? Unless you've planned ahead and set up a ride, you're going to end up driving home."

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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.