BOSTON - A special commission created to study the impact of legal cannabis use by adults on Massachusetts drivers presented its findings Friday.
The members of the advisory board will eventually form a list of recommendations to make to the legislature on how to really stop and detect impaired drivers.
The tough part about this, though, is there is really no way to detect if a driver has been using marijuana while driving. The findings presented Friday by the commission were mixed, although there is an option for oral fluid testing, it doesn't fully detect when the THC got into the system. Marijuana can last up to a month in the body, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to prove drivers are high.
Although field sobriety tests can be performed when an officer pulls a driver over, there is no breathalyzer to prove someone is high behind the wheel.
Friday, the board agreed the best way to get impaired drivers off the road is to increase drug recognition expert officers in the state; those are officers with special training to detect high drivers, but right now, there are only 147 in the state.
"When marijuana becomes legal it really does increase the number of impaired drivers on the road so it is urgent we have to do something immediately right at this moment and even though the perfect solution, the equivalent of a breathalyzer is still 3-5 years away, there are still techniques we can use out there to at least improve the type of people who are impaired," said criminal defense attorney Peter Elikann.
Now, drivers still have the right to refuse oral fluid tests like they would with a breathalyzer. Law enforcement officers say they will continue to use their techniques when they pull over a driver who they believe is impaired.
Members of the board seemed to agree on trying to double or even triple the number of drug recognition experts in the state.
The panel was formed by the Cannabis Control Commission. The 13-member special commission is a requirement of the state marijuana law and must present their recommendations to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2019.
What the board decides would likely change state OUI laws.
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