Long Beach, California, is launching a significant safety program to address the issue of stoned driving. This initiative, fueled by a $285,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aims to educate the local community about responsible cannabis use and the risks associated with cannabis-impaired driving.
The program, driven by Long Beach's Department of Health and Human Services, will use these funds to support a range of activities from October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024. These activities include DUI-Drug prevention workshops targeted at high school and college students, highlighting the dangers of impaired driving and promoting transportation alternatives. There will also be community partnerships for health equity, including bilingual and bicultural workshops on drug-impaired traffic safety. An additional focus will be an E-scooter/E-Bike campaign to remind users that riding under the influence is both illegal and unsafe.
Furthermore, the program will feature a peer-to-peer youth program to encourage young people to promote traffic safety actively. Dispensaries will collaborate in efforts to educate consumers about safe and responsible cannabis use. There will be enhanced drug-impaired driving awareness campaigns through print and digital media, along with coordination of Long Beach Safe Streets Awareness Week. The program also plans to organize pop-up events emphasizing the importance of safe and responsible driving.
These efforts are part of the city's broader strategy to promote safety and well-being on the roads. In the past year, the program has reached 2,000 community members through various methods, including drug-impaired driving presentations, educational outreach, and the Safe Streets Ambassador program, which graduated students from Long Beach schools.
The program aligns with the Health Department's plan to develop a safe approach to responsible cannabis use and the city's Safe Streets Action Plan, which aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2026. The OTS grant represents the seventh year of funding for such initiatives in Long Beach, demonstrating a continued commitment to reducing drug-impaired driving in the city.
Additionally, Long Beach has taken steps to lower cannabis tax rates as part of its efforts to increase legal cannabis sales and attract consumers who might otherwise avoid taxes. This tax reduction, expected to be implemented in the city's 2024 annual budget, aims to create a positive feedback loop by reducing the tax burden on local cannabis operators, allowing them to be competitive and expand, while also nurturing a new revenue source for the city.
This comprehensive approach by Long Beach illustrates a proactive stance in addressing the growing concerns related to cannabis-impaired driving, while also recognizing the economic potential of the cannabis industry. The city's initiatives serve as a model for effectively balancing public safety with the realities of cannabis legalization and its impact on local communities.