Police officers prepare for marijuana legalization

Cops prepare for marijuana legalization

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — It has been a week since Mainers voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. However, even with a recount as a possibility, police officers are already looking at how they would enforce the new law.

The people have voted and it looks like recreational marijuana could be here to stay. But not everyone is happy with that.

“We're not going to have a whole lot of control," Brewer PD Deputy Chief Chris Martin said. "And that's from the law enforcement standpoint."

“We're just going to have to look at the public safety issues, like impaired driving and youth use," he said. "We'll have to figure out how we're going to tackle that."

But he is not the only one who is worried.

“The testing process for marijuana, I think, is going to be really hard,” Holden PD Chief Chris Greeley said. “The OUI enforcement part is going to be really hard for us. Just because we smell marijuana doesn't, in fact, mean that the driver is under the influence.”

He said marijuana can stay in the body for 30 days, and at this point, there is no way to determine when a driver used the drug.

“The challenge for law enforcement is going to be, 'Are they following the guidelines of the new law, or are they abusing the guidelines?’"

Drug Recognition Experts can determine if a person is under the influence, but Greeley said their staffing is limited and not always time efficient.

“We're putting them through a procedure, which they might not necessarily need to go through, so I think it could go against them too.”

But former sheriff Mark Dion said legalizing marijuana will allow officers to focus on more important issues.

"Yes on 1 regulates marijuana for adults so police have time to fight serious, violent and unsolved crimes,” he said.

“Well you know, that's not true because we're probably going to spend more time trying to figure out the marijuana law when we encounter these situations than ever before,” Greeley said.

Since possession of marijuana is a federal offense, Martin said it puts law enforcement officers in a no-win situation.

“We're asking police officers to commit a federal felony on our state law and that's a heck of a position to put us in,” he said.

Copyright 2016 WLBZ


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