As Colorado pot smokers celebrate the unveiling of the first fully legal system of marijuana sale, state police issued a warning to potential drivers under the influence of the drug.
“If you’re driving and you’re impaired by marijuana or by anything else, you will be stopped, you will be cited, you will be arrested,” Colorado State Police Sergeant Mike Baker reminded residents of the state where pot can now be freely bought and sold to anyone over 21.
Since there is no existing marijuana breath test, drivers suspected of being under the influence will be taken by state troopers to a facility for a blood test. Colorado set the legal limit for marijuana at five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. If a person is found to be driving over the limit, they won’t necessarily be convicted, but their blood test will be used as evidence at trial.
Baker said police officers are being trained to recognize and deal with the hazard of drivers posing a danger to themselves and others on the road after smoking weed.
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“Colorado has a lot of great people and they abide by our traffic laws, but in case we do see an increase (in marijuana impairment), we’re training our troopers accordingly,” Baker said.
Marijuana supporters are wary of unfair police action under the guise of protecting citizens.
“Nobody in Colorado wants people who are impaired by any substance to drive,” said Colorado marijuana advocate Mason Tvert. “But we also really need to make sure that we’re not criminalizing and punishing people who aren’t impaired when they’re driving.”
Coloradoans flocked to the nation’s first legal pot peddlers Wednesday, braving blustery conditions to purchase marijuana without a prescription or fear of arrest.
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"This feels like freedom at last," said Amy Reynolds, who owns two Colorado Springs medical pot shops. "It’s a plant, it’s harmless, and now anyone over 21 can buy it if they want to. Beautiful."
It is illegal to take marijuana purchased in Colorado outside state lines, as the drug is still banned under federal law. Washington state will soon follow suit in opening shops that sell the plant for recreational use.