We’re far from CLEARING THE SMOKE over recreational marijuana use. A new federal policy announced this past week takes a tough line. It’s a challenge to states that have legalized use, including, most recently, the biggest state of all. Our Cover Story is reported by Barry Petersen:
“I’ve never experienced the spectrum of talking to cops while high,” laughed Alex. “So I’m like, ‘This is gonna be pretty cool!'”
It’s a sign of marijuana’s growing acceptance. During the Drug Wars in the 1980s and ’90s, stoners were afraid of cops. But at this workshop held in Sacramento, volunteers are showing law enforcement what it looks like when they’re too high to drive.
It’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, but there is no definitive roadside test for impairment — no breathalyzer as for alcohol, so an arrest is often a cop’s judgment call.
“Some of the things that I would look for [are] some of the things our test subjects showed, which is difficulty following my instructions as I gave them, short-term memory loss,” said police officer Hal Larem. “Very consistent with marijuana.”
Attorney Chris Halsor started this program in Colorado when pot for recreational use became legal. Now, what he learned in Colorado is being taught in other states, like California, where legal recreational pot went on sale last week.
“We don’t want people who are lawfully doing something [to] be arrested when they aren’t impaired,” said Halsor.
“But we don’t want ’em driving on the road, either,” said Petersen.
Halsor laughed: “We don’t want them driving on the road!”
A little over five years ago, Colorado voted for what was called the “Great Experiment”: legal recreational pot. It was the first state where recreational pot went on sale, with long lines, in 2014.
Colorado’s experience still drives the national debate.
Recreational pot is now legal in eight states plus the District of Columbia. Twenty-one additional states now allow sales of marijuana for medical use.
You might think by now the debate on pot good or bad would be diminishing. Not so … even as more states are allowing marijuana, opponents now think they have their best chance ever of shutting it all down.
This past week Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the nation’s U.S. attorneys they are free to prosecute those selling pot in states even where it is legal — a reversal of the policy under President Obama.