Commission on Marijuana and Driving Meets Weeks Before Recreational Sales in Massachusetts

With three weeks to go before recreational marijuana sales become legal in Massachusetts, a state commission gathered Wednesday to discuss the questions of operating under the influence.

"Do we feel ready right now? No, we don't," Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael said.

Carmichael is part of the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving. The group is required by the marijuana law to study the effects of driving after using cannabis.

"The deadline for the commission to report is January of 2019," said Shawn Collin, the commission's chair. "It's a deadline that was established in the commission, the actual statutes."

There is currently no roadside drug test readily available, like a breath test used to detect blood-alcohol content. Officers will need to resort to other detection methods.

"They're going to look at other physical signs, such as the glassy, blood shot eyes, the odor of marijuana, things that are in plain view such as edibles or oils," Carmichael said.

Due to the lack of accurate testing, law enforcement knows they can run the risk of someone being falsely arrested. That's one of the reasons why Carmichael says his officers are not ready for legalized marijuana.

"The last thing a police officer wants to do is bring somebody in under arrest that shouldn't be, so that's why it's very crucial for this commission to make sure we give them the tools to make a good assessment and to be making the right decision on if someone should be arrested," Carmichael said.

Their next meeting is set for July 3, and it's open to the public.

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