The legalization of marijuana comes with a new host of problems for law enforcement officials. Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl and Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol explain.
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl: "Where I see this really, the new legislation really affecting is our ability to prosecute driving while under the influence of marijuana."
Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol: "Looking at data from other states, our fear is that we’re going to see what they see, and we’re going to see an increase in traffic accidents where the operator of the motor vehicle is under the influence of marijuana."
John Muehl: "We can no longer prove impaired to any extent. We have to prove impaired to the equivalent of an alcohol arrest."
Sheriff Maciol: "We currently in the United States of America have no roadside technology to measure the level of a person’s marijuana in their system as compared to BAC, the Blood Alcohol Content of a person with alcohol in their system."
John Muehl: "When you test someone for marijuana it shows you that they have marijuana in their system, but marijuana stays in your system for a significant amount of time, so it’s hard to show what’s active in a person’s system, and so you have to have a drug recognition expert and go through all the process."
Sheriff Maciol: "There’s only a specific category of police officers that are certified to perform field sobriety tests outside of the alcohol sobriety tests. OK, so they’re referred to as DRE’s Drug Recognition Experts. It’s not something that any police officer can do is to become a DRE. There’s an interview and selection process, obviously there’s extensive training, like I said out of the area. It’s not only extensive in time, but it’s expensive in resources. It’s not cheap to get people certified. They’re talking about potentially going to a saliva test instead of a blood, yearn, or hair test because the saliva test is going to just pick up the most recent level of marijuana in a person’s system, but still no one can tell us at what level does that affect a person’s ability to safely drive a car."
There are approximately 260,000 people in Oneida County alone, and there’s only 6 Drug Recognition Experts to cover the entire county.