While the smoke has hardly settled from the victory celebrations of California's marijuana smokers' November victory to legalize the recreational use of pot in the state, Assemblyman Tom Lackey has thrust up a new roadblock that could land those who smoke and drive behind bars.
Assembly Bill 6, if passed into law, would authorize police officer to conduct tests on the saliva of motorists who they suspect are stoned. The test is somewhat similar to how police now test drivers suspected of drunken driving with a Breathalyzer test.
Saliva samples would not just determine if drivers test positive marijuana, but also other illegal drugs. Under federal laws, marijuana is still illegal and classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no legitimate medical usage and carries high potential to be abused.
Earlier this year, a similar amendment got rejected due to concerns over the reliability of field-testing drivers for pot use. The California Highway Patrol has sought methods to identify motorists who are actively stoned, something that could bolster the assemblyman's recently proposed bill.
In his statement to High Times, Lackey said, "California cannot wait any longer to take meaningful action against drugged driving now that voters have passed Proposition 64. Using new technology to identify and get stoned drivers off the road is something we need to embrace."
Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that when compared to drivers under the influence of alcohol, stoned drivers had remarkably fewer crashes.
Those who had recently smoked marijuana had only a one to three times greater risk of getting into an auto accident than a sober driver. Drunken drivers, however, had five to 30 times an increased risk of crashing their vehicles than sober drivers did.
If you stand accused of drugged driving, regardless of the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, you will need to mount a robust defense in court in order to beat the charges.
Source: International Business Times, "Is Driving While High Illegal? California Marijuana Law Would Test Drivers For Drugs," Janice Williams, Dec. 08, 2016