Call it growing pains, call it just being stuck in the drug war mentality, but just know that there are still police all over the country looking to make it hard for people who use marijuana.
Just because some states have legalized marijuana for recreational use — something that allows adults 21 and over to buy cannabis products like beer — doesn’t mean that law enforcement is all of a sudden cool with drugs. In fact, the way the law is written in some cases, local jurisdictions have the right to ban cannabis businesses from emerging in their neck of the woods.
These are the spots where progressive attitudes have not yet sunk in, which gives local cops all sorts of ideas to keep busting the average stoner even though the law technically says, “Hey, leave them kids alone.” Call it growing pains, call it just being stuck in the drug war mentality, but just know that there are still police all over the country looking to make it hard for people who use marijuana.
The best method police have at this point to bust unsuspecting cannabis users is by leaning on the offense of stoned driving or Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID). Since there is currently no marijuana breathalyzer on the market that can determine whether a motorist is driving impaired, police use saliva swabs and other questionable roadside drug tests to make these assumptions.
But cannabis metabolizes in the body differently than alcohol, so police can really only tell if a motorist has smoked marijuana within the past 30 days. They cannot, however, distinguish between those people who smoked recently and the ones out there on the highways bugged out of their brains.
Therefore, as Michigan and Illinois prepare to launch their recreational pot markets in the coming months, toking tourists (not to mention the locals) should prepare themselves for some ramped up law enforcement shenanigans. For example, police in Naperville, Illinois, which is just about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, are already planning to target stoned motorists as soon as legalization takes hold.
The goal is to drag as many people as possible to jail for driving under the influence of marijuana.
“Impairment is impairment, whether it’s alcohol or any drug. It affects their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle,” Illinois Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Jennifer Cifaldi told ABC News.
To keep from getting jammed up in the court system, we would advise anyone traveling into legal states to visit the dispensaries to use a designated driver who is not a marijuana user. At the very least, use someone who hasn’t smoked weed within the past month. In the event of a traffic stop, the person behind the wheel should be able to pass all of the officer’s roadside drug testing and even submit a clean blood sample if asked.
Everyone else in the vehicle can be stoned beyond stoned, but if the driver so much as tests positive for THC, chances are he or she is going to jail for DUID. There is also a possibility if no one else in the vehicle can drive, that the car could be impounded. Yet, as long as your designated driver passes the officer’s tests, there should be no problem.
Having a designated driver who can pass a roadside shakedown is also imperative for those people hoping to smuggle legal weed into a prohibition state. Make no mistake about it, law enforcement will be looking for any reason they can to arrest people for DUID and search vehicles for illegal contraband. Having someone behind the wheel who can navigate this process is crucial in making sure that everyone gets home from their dispensary adventure without legal consequences.
Remember, break only one law at a time.