Even though currently there is no way to effectively determine marijuana impairment, a California lawmaker is attempting to pass a law in the upcoming legislative session which would give the state’s highway patrol permission to test every motorist they think is driving high. Tom Lackey, a veteran with the California Highway Patrol, introduced a piece of legislation (Assembly Bill 6) in the beginning of this week, in hopes of giving police officers the right to utilize roadside testing devices on drivers they think are under the influence of pot. The proposal was created to fight the rise in marijuana consumers that Lackey assumes will be driving in the streets now that California voters have made marijuana completely legal.
“California cannot wait any longer to take meaningful action against drugged driving now that voters have passed Proposition 64,” Lackey stated in an emailed statement to HIGH TIMES. “Using new technology to identify and get stoned drivers off the road is something we need to embrace.”
Much like administering a breathalyzer for alcohol, Assembly Bill 6 would give cops permission to swab the saliva from individuals they consider stoned. This would be bad for the state’s medical marijuana patients and recreational users considering these roadside testing methods are not effective in determining actual impairment. The bottom line is that this proposal gives the police an open door to harass the average cannabis consumer.
“The bill does not prescribe a ‘per se’ legal limit as California has done for blood alcohol content measured by alcohol breathalyzers nor does it change the rules for obtaining a drugged driving conviction,” reads a legislative summary. “Law enforcement will still be required to prove a driver was impaired based off of field sobriety tests, blood or urine tests and other additional evidence. A positive oral fluid test will simply confirm to the officer that a drug is present in the driver’s system.”
It is very unfortunate that officials such as Ken Corney; president of the California Police Chiefs Association, do not appear to be concerned that this law could cause a significant rise in the amount of arrest as well as loss of driving privileges for innocent people because of an unjust DUI conviction. The idea that a saliva sample; which can only determine whether or not an individual has used marijuana within the past month, is enough to pursue charges is absurd.
“The ballot initiative passed this year to legalize marijuana will result in more marijuana consumers on our state’s highways and roads,” Corney stated. “It is imperative that we invest in a broad spectrum of technologies and research to best identify marijuana-impaired drivers. Our federal partners have demonstrated the efficacy of oral fluid testing, and we look forward to utilizing the technology at a state level.”
During the last several years, marijuana experts have been attempting to sway state officials all over the nation that a better tool for gauging cannabis impairment is required in order to properly police the issue in a manner similar to alcohol. As of this time no one has had the ability to bring an effective test to market, although there have been many groups claiming to be on the verge of a breakthrough in breath test technology. A similar bill was introduced last year in the California General Assembly but failed to pass. We can only hope the same happens in 2017.
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