A committee assembled by the Maine Department of Public Safety has determined that the state does not need to create blood-level limits to determine cannabis impairment. Rather, law enforcement officers should receive additional training to recognize impairment and the dangers of driving while under the influence of cannabis, according to a Bangor Daily News report.
Committee Chair Scot Maddox said that prosecutors and judges should also receive the training but the state’s current impairment laws are sufficient to measure cannabis intoxication.
“The basis of under the influence is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned,” Maddox said before the Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee. “Whether you’re impaired because you’re drinking alcohol or whether you’re impaired because you’re taking prescription medications, or you’re impaired because you’re smoking marijuana, the difference is none, as far as the law is concerned.”
State Sen. Mark Dion, a former Portland, Maine police officer, said he was surprised by the recommendation because blood tests are key in netting impaired driving arrests and convictions.
“If you blow a 1.5 on the breath test, it kind of validates the officer’s conclusions that you’re impaired, and there’s a lot of weight placed on that breath test,” he said in the report. “If someone is arrested for cannabis influence impairment, all we have is the confirmation that cannabis is present. And it doesn’t necessarily validate the observations of the officer.”
Maddox said a blood test could still be used to shore up a driving-while-impaired charge and officers could still make arrests based on their observations – but recommended robust education campaigns for both the public and members of the law enforcement community.