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Marijuana: Enforcing an Ancient Drug

Marijuana: Enforcing an ancient drug...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Marijuana is not a new drug.  In fact, Its earliest roots can be traced to 6000 B.C.

But thousands of years after its initial use, technology is still catching up with the drug that’s now gone public.

Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but there have been no technological advances have been put in place to keep up: the blood tests used to reinforce an officer’s observations of driving impairment are the same they’ve been for years.

Though reliable, there are obvious problems with blood tests.

“A blood test has to go to a certified laboratory.  It can be weeks, months, to get the results back,” said Sgt. Rob Madden with the Colorado State Patrol.

Not only that, but the test can cost agencies hundreds of dollars, and drivers don’t have to give consent to a blood test, either.

There are first elements of probable cause to justify being pulled over: lane drifting, speeding, slowing down.  Beyond that, officers look for dilated pupils, balance and speaking issues, and cognitive tests to determine impairment.

State leaders agree, however, with marijuana’s greater availability comes a greater need for enforcement.

“When marijuana was legalized, we realized that we’re probably gonna have a whole lot more customers,” said Glenn Davis, the Highway Safety Traffic Manager for CDOT.

According to CDOT, 55% of marijuana users think it’s safe to drive after using. Beyond that, frequent users admit to driving high 17 times a month.

Since legalization, the number of traffic fatalities involving marijuana have nearly doubled.



It’s for this reason, Colorado State Patrol is in its second year of testing roadside devices that would detect the presence of marijuana.  KRDO Newschannel 13 will have a closer look at what devices could eventually be on Colorado roads, Thursday night.



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