As we consider the titular question — “Why is this Denver lawyer giving away free rolling papers?” — our mind goes to a cynical place immediately.
“An attorney is giving away rolling papers to market his own services, right?”
Right — for the most part.
“They’re marketing materials,” said Denver-based DUI attorney Jay Tiftickjian, who printed 5,000 branded packages of rolling papers for free distribution, “but they also give an anti-DUI public service as well. If they decided to use one, hopefully they get the message and remind themselves why it’s not a great idea to get behind the wheel after smoking pot.”
The rolling papers, which are available for free at Tiftickjian’s office and various area dispensaries, include the messaging, “Enjoy the Trip, But Don’t Drive High.” Some of the attorney’s advice, also printed on the packaging:
“Transport your product in a sealed container and only in the trunk.”
“Roadside tests are voluntary; There is no punishment for refusing.”
“Exercise your 5th Amendment Constitutional right to remain silent.”
Tiftickjian’s primary message is simple: “Just don’t do it — don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been smoking. The more people think about it, the less people are going to put themselves into that position — and for the public that’s a good thing. We want people to think.”
Tiftickjian said his office has seen “a slight but steady” increase in stoned-driving cases since legal recreational sales began on Jan. 1.
“But alcohol is still the king as far as the cases we get and the bad driving we see and the accidents we see,” Tiftickjian said. “We don’t see many cases where it involves straight marijuana use and driving. While we have seen an uptick in driving-related THC cases, alcohol is far worse of a problem to society than what we’ve seen so far with marijuana driving.”
Tiftickjian’s marketing-with-a-message is also his way of protesting the state of Colorado’s controversial measurement of cannabis-impaired driving. If a driver’s blood tests positive for 5 nanograms (or more) of THC, juries can then presume impairment, according to Colorado law — and advocates say that methodology isn’t scientifically accurate when judging impairment.
“There are no legitimate measurements out there that can give us an exact number as for whether or not someone is under the influence of marijuana, so that’s a question mark,” Tiftickjian said. “There’s nothing to back that up, and there are a good deal of people who are not impaired while driving but still coming back with a drug test of 5 nanograms or more. The laws are on the books to try to convict people and not necessarily the other way around.”
At the same time, if everyone smartly took Tiftickjian’s advice of not driving after drinking alcohol or ingesting marijuana he’d be out of a job.
“If people stop drinking and driving and stop using drugs and driving and if the government became more honest, I would happily find something else to do,” Tiftickjian said. “It won’t happen anytime soon, but I would happily find something else to do.”