Medical marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts. Which means patients are allowed to drive with some marijuana in their system legally, but how much before they’re considered impaired? Massachusetts doesn’t have a breathalyzer type device to determine how high someone is behind the wheel. The news went to the State Police barracks in Brookfield to see what steps police are taking to keep our roads safe from drivers under the influence of marijuana.
“If you’re asking if there will be limit like there is with blood alcohol, I don’t know. It’s up to the legislature. Right now there is no limit on the books, it’s whether or not a person is impaired when they are driving,” said State Police Trooper Matthew Simpson. Trooper Simpson is a drug recognition expert. He said, “There’s a program, it’s an international program where we have 17 troopers trained in and we’re planning to train an additional 20 in the next ten months or so in response to medical marijuana.”
The State Police are already amping up their efforts in response to the medical marijuana dispensaries. Attorney Richard Evans told the I-Team he expects that marijuana could be completely legalized and taxed in Massachusetts in the new few years. “We often hear that we should slow down in reforming the marijuana laws because there’s not a so called breathalyzer test for marijuana, I think that’s a bogus argument I think that’s just an excuse not to do anything,” said Evans.
State Representative Ellen Story of Amherst filed a bill called the “The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act.” Attorney Evans helped write it. The bill has a section on driving, where it says legalizing marijuana won’t have to change any of our driving laws. “The fact is we have laws on the books right now that very strenuously punish motorists who are driving under the influence of any substance,” said Evans. Trooper Simpson says police use just about the same tests to determine if you are too drunk to drive as they would if a driver is to high to be behind the wheel.
“Typically we’re looking to find if that person is impaired, whether or not their ability to coordinate a motor vehicle is diminished by whatever they might have taken,” said Trooper Simpson. Trooper Simpson told 22News there are currently 77 drug recognition experts across the state from the state and local police. The State Police are training an additional twenty, but other agencies are training more people as well.
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