With pot legal, Mass. vows crackdown on impaired drivers

BOSTON (WWLP/AP) – Massachusetts officials are promising to crack down on marijuana-impaired driving as the state prepares for full implementation of its voter-approved recreational pot law.

State police said Thursday they are increasing the number of officers with special training in detecting whether motorists are under the influence of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

The state’s Highway Safety Division is launching the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” education campaign to highlight the risks of marijuana impaired driving. Marijuana can negatively affect drivers skills,including slow reaction time, impaired coordination and distorted perception according to the centers for disease control and prevention.

Jennifer Queally, Undersecretary at EOPSS told 22News, “We’re looking to educate people that are in fact legally using marijuana and how to do it in a safe manner and keep nour roads safe and keep our residents and our visitors safe.”

Officials also unveiled a public education campaign featuring radio and TV spots, and billboard messages aimed at younger adults who may not recognize the dangers of driving after using pot.

The fear is that the legalization of recreational marijuana will cause a spike in impaired driving crashes.

One continuing hurdle for law enforcement is the lack of a reliable scientific test, similar to a breath test for alcohol, to measure THC impairment.

Marijuana was the most prevalent type of drug found in people killed in crashes from 2010 to 2014, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.