The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services has been awarded $215,000 in federal money to educate drivers about the danger of getting behind the wheel while buzzed or high on pot, it was announced Monday.

While Americans drove less in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that active THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, was more prevalent than alcohol among drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The safety of our community is our top priority in Long Beach,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “As we continue to improve the City’s transportation infrastructure, this grant will enable us to expand existing safety education campaigns and encourage safe interactions among road users to reduce traffic related injuries.”

The grant was awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, which awards federal dollars to local and state governments for the development of traffic safety programs.

The city’s GreenlightLB Program will use the funds to educate community members about the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs and promote safer choices. This is the fifth year the Health Department has received such a grant to continue its drug-impaired driving prevention efforts.

“Everyone can play a role to ensure that Long Beach streets are safe,” LBHD Director Kelly Colopy said. “The efforts funded by OTS allow for evidence-based prevention programs to increase awareness and help everyone make informed decisions to eliminate drug-impaired driving in Long Beach.”

This year’s funding is supporting:

— Peer-to-peer education among college-aged students to increase awareness and education surrounding the dangers of drug-impaired driving;

— Youth focused initiatives, including virtual presentations, to educate high school and college students on the consequences of driving while impaired;

— Workshops focused on older adults to increase education on the effects of legally obtained and commonly used over-the-counter and prescription drugs on a user’s ability to drive safely;

— Collaboration with local bars, clubs and cannabis dispensaries to conduct educational activities and implement an awareness campaign to reach high-risk populations; and

— Enhanced drug-impaired driving awareness through print and digital media resources and coordination of Long Beach Safe Streets Awareness Week.

More information about the city’s cannabis education efforts is available on the GreenlightLB webpage.

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