• Police groups question marijuana test

    by  • May 8, 2013 • News

    lllinois law enforcement organizations say motorist safeguards in pending medical marijuana legislation are not strict enough as the measure heads for a Senate vote. pot+leaf

    John Kennedy of Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police says police should be able to test blood and urine of motorists suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.

    The chiefs and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association say the legislation incorrectly states that federal officials have OK’d standard sobriety tests for cannabis influence. They say blood and urine tests are the only accurate measure.

    The groups hand-delivered a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday. The Associated Press was given a copy Wednesday in advance of its public release.

    However, Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project responded to Capitol Fax regarding the development and says the safeguards in the bill against driving under the influence are “incredibly strict — arguably too strict.”

    Riffle, a former prosecuting attorney, tells Rich Miller of Capitol Fax that, “Patients who drive under the influence of cannabis would be charged under the exact same provisions that apply to anyone who drives under the influence of more impairing medications like OxyContin, Xanax, or Vicodin. The only difference would be that police would have more latitude to require a field sobriety test for medical cannabis patients.”

    He also notes the bill specifically states that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent the arrest or prosecution of a registered qualifying patient for reckless driving or driving under the influence where probable cause exists.”

    It also directs the Secretary of State to make a notation on the patient’s driving record that s/he is a qualifying patient and, unlike current law, gives implied consent to field sobriety tests. Patients who refuse a test will have their license suspended and ability to use medical cannabis revoked.

    A Senate committee is scheduled to hear the issue later Wednesday.