Baker Pushes for Law to Apply OUI Statutes to Marijuana

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There is currently no breathalyzer-type test to gauge marijuana impairment. (File photograph)

As the number of stores selling marijuana in Massachusetts grows, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday announced he’ll ask lawmakers to adopt the recommendations of a special commission that studied ways to deal with operating under the influence.

According to the State House News Service, if the Legislature adopts the 19 recommendations from the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving, a driver suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana who refuses to take a chemical test for impairment would lose their license for at least six months. That is the same penalty faced by suspected drunken drivers who refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

Since late November, nine retail marijuana stores have opened their doors and regulators say they expect four to eight new stores opening each month. There is currently no breathalyzer-type test to gauge marijuana impairment.

The special commission, which was created as part of the 2017 law that also established the Cannabis Control Commission, also suggests amending the existing operating under the influence law so that, in court, the state would have to prove only that the driver was impaired to obtain a conviction.

Last year, a Department of Public Health study found that nearly 35 percent of adults who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days also reported driving under the influence of marijuana. DPH said baseline data suggest that about seven percent of all adults drove under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days and that about 12 percent of all adults rode with a driver who was under the influence of marijuana.

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