TODAY   |  March 10, 2014

Colorado cracks down on stoned drivers

The state is launching a $1 million ad campaign to warn drivers about the hazards of smoking marijuana and driving. Officials are using humor to spread a serious message. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> all right. a new ad campaign launches in colorado today. the focus is warning drivers in a state where marijuana is now legal of the dangers of smoking and getting behind the wheel. here's nbc's miguel almaguer.

>> reporter: the $1 million ad campaign poked fun at stoners. a series of commercials showing marijuana users spacing out. a reminder while it is legal to smoke pot in colorado , it's against the law to be high behind the wheel.

>> this is a first public education campaign. there'll be many to come.

>> paid for by the colorado department of transportation , the ad campaign is the state's first push to remind drivers marijuana should be treated like alcohol, both impair your judgment, both can land you in jail. for state police , it's no joke.

>> and you're going to count out loud. one thousand one.

>> more than half of colorado 's 61 arrests made in january for impaired driving involved someone who was high.

>> the potential to find somebody who is high is going to be greater now.

>> i'm going to have you follow the tip of this red pen with your eyes and eyes only.

>> today near denver, the mile-high city, more than 200 officers are being trained to become dres, drug recognition experts. trooper t.w. cox just graduated.

>> how dangerous is a high driver?

>> high drivers are extremely dangerous . it's exactly the same as someone who is on alcohol.

>> budding into a $500 million industry in colorado , these new ads target young men.

>> we have a youth prevention campaign that's going to focus on talking to the youth directly and parents and teachers about how to talk to you.

>> launching today across the state, the commercials used humor to warn stoners about something that's no laughing matter. for "today," miguel almaguer, nbc news, denver, colorado .

>> the dribbling's getting on my nerves, but i think using the humor does get your attention.

>> this weekend, they said the signs you'll see on the highway say speed up.