MEDFORD, Ore. – Law enforcers around the state are getting ready for recreational marijuana on the ballot. But while the law could bring a lot of changes, local police say impaired driving likely wouldn’t be one of them.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana can’t be detected by an easy breathalyzer test. Police rely on standard impairment tests, as well as a group of specially trained officers called Drug Recognition Experts, or DRE’s.
Those officers receive extensive testing in how to use vital signs, pupil dilation, and other indicators to look for influence of drugs.
They say, while marijuana can impair drivers, it’s rarely consumed in high enough amounts by itself to result in a DUII.
“Some people can drink a pint of beer and they’ll be impaired. Some people can drink two to three pints of beer before they’re impaired. It’s the same thing with marijuana,” said Sergeant Don Lane, a Drug Recognition Expert with Medford Police.
Even drivers who admit to being high can continue driving if they pass an impairment test.
Police say it’s unlikely legalization of recreational marijuana would lead to more DUII’s. They say those who are inclined to abuse marijuana are largely doing so already. They also say DUII’s involving marijuana usually involve alcohol or other drugs as well.