“Public Health and Safety Holes” in RI’s Cannabis Law, says Police Leaders Association

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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The RI Police Chiefs Association has raised concerns about legalized cannabis legislation. PHOTO: RIPCA

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association (RIPCA) announced Tuesday that it wants to focus on “several gaps in public health and safety legislation that, as written, could have immediate detrimental effects on Rhode Islanders if not treated responsibly and appropriately.” as such, commercial cannabis legislation is being moved through the General Assembly.

“The regulation of commercial marijuana in Rhode Island, if it is to be implemented, must be done with the responsibility and care of public health and safety. Sidney M. Wordell, Executive Director of RIPCA. “There is a need for further assessment of the various aspects of the bill. To protect a safe and healthy environment for all Rhode Islanders.”

“Driving while the marijuana is damaged can increase the risk of death from motor vehicles, and significant research is needed to assess the procedures, tools and resources available to officials to properly detect marijuana-affected drivers and keep them safe on the roads,” said Sean Corrigan, RIPCA President and “Without addressing these factors, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association believes that passing this legislation would have a detrimental effect on the safety and well-being of Rhode Island communities.”


RIPCA concerns

The association released the following on Tuesday:

“Specifically, those in favor of public safety, public health and transport safety want to draw the public’s attention to:

There is no legally or commercially viable evidence for police to detect the presence of marijuana or to determine if a driver is driving under the influence of marijuana on the roads. Police would have no choice but to remove the damaged motorbikes from the road. Current legislation allows motor vehicle passengers to actively use marijuana. This is inherently dangerous. The use of marijuana in motor vehicles should be strictly prohibited, so as to reduce the risk of a driver acting or acting under the influence of marijuana use.

Road deaths have increased significantly in recent years in Rhode Island. Seventy-three people were killed on our roads in 2020, up from 57 in 2019. Rhode Island has the highest percentage of deaths from driving in the nation with alcohol shortages; 44% compared to the national average of 28% for 2019. The problem is so significant in Rhode Island, where the Highway Traffic Safety Administration sees it as a crisis and has sent additional federal support and resources to tackle the death and alcohol problem. he caused death on the roads. Adding commercial marijuana to the equation without any protection to recommend or prevent driving marijuana shortage would make the bad problem worse.

Current legislation is similar to smoking marijuana cigarettes, and smoking / use would be legal in all public places where smoking is permitted, including sidewalks, beaches, and public parks. This is the wrong approach. Marijuana should be treated similarly to alcohol consumption. Marijuana is psychoactive and causes behavioral changes in second-hand marijuana smoke and can have immediate effects on others who do not want it.

Research has shown that marijuana use directly affects the brain and areas of memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time, resulting in impaired driving and increased risk of accidents.

A Rocky Mountain High-Intensive Drug Trafficking Area 2019 study called “Legalizing Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact” documented a significant increase in Colorado traffic fatalities in connection with poor driving. Since marijuana was legalized in 2012, drivers who tested positive for marijuana have increased by 109% and all other traffic deaths have increased by 31%, more than doubling from 55 in 2013 to 115 in 2018.

However, it is almost impossible to detect a marijuana-damaged driver in the field, given the many factors that cause the onset, intensity, and duration of intoxication, including consumption, type of marijuana product consumed, product potency, and user characteristics, all of which can be affected. time and degree of impairment. In addition, there are insufficient scientific data to suggest that motor drivers will not be able to influence their ability to drive.

Furthermore, although there is a state standard and clear blood alcohol content and limit thresholds, there is no such rule in the proposed bill, and the investigation and determination of a legal THC nanogram threshold should be a priority to indicate impairment.

In stark contrast to the availability of devices that can immediately assess the level of alcohol-related impairment, there is no nationally approved roadside device or chemical testing procedure that properly detects THC levels in an individual’s system. Some states use behavioral assessments to help determine impairment, however, to date, the testimony of the Court of Experts on Drug Recognition is not supported in Rhode Island, as it is impossible for law enforcement to successfully prosecute a case based on behavioral assessments.

From a public safety and public welfare perspective, the current bill is highly inadequate when it comes to reducing the use of marijuana in public. As written, the bill would allow vehicle passengers to use cannabis (including smoking, eating, or evaporating); on public roads and sidewalks; camping; in parks, beaches and playgrounds; in sports and music venues; in businesses, restaurants, cafes or bars; and in common areas of residential buildings or condominiums. This creates a public nuisance, putting the privileges of marijuana users, for example, above the rights of those who do not want to breathe marijuana smoke while in public.

Without the provisions of the law, any other regulation on the use of cannabis in public spaces and public property would be the responsibility of municipalities, creating regulations and assigning unfunded enforcement responsibilities to the police and health councils. “

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