Safety was the primary question at a forum on marijuana last Thursday night in Stowe.
The herb will be legal in limited quantities for adults 21 years old or older in July, and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman hosted the forum so people could get answers to some of their questions about legal weed.[Stowe Police Chief Don] Hull said police and prosecutors had concerns about marijuana’s safety, and he wasn’t sure all those concerns had been addressed.
“What are the testing methods going to be? There’s nothing currently in place,” he said. “Will it be treated the same” as alcohol when it comes to driving under the influence? “What will those penalties be? We don’t know that yet,” Hull said.
Police aren’t the only ones concerned about the safety of marijuana and driving, Hull said. Emergency medical services responders are also worried, he said.
Zuckerman said studies have shown that alcohol makes drivers more aggressive, while cannabis makes people drive more slowly and leave extra room between their vehicle and traffic in front of them.
“They are both impairments,” Zuckerman said, but if he had to choose between drivers who are drunk or those under the influence of cannabis, he’d choose the high ones.
While there’s no test to determine whether a driver has consumed cannabis recently enough for it to affect his or her driving, “drunken driving cases were prosecuted before there were breathalyzers,” Subin pointed out. “There are other ways to pursue impaired driving.”
Hull said the process of having an officer trained in drug recognition come to the scene, and then getting the subject to the hospital for a blood test, could take two hours of police time.
“We don’t want those people on the road,” Hull said.