COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - Recreational cannabis is set to be legalized when the new year strikes. The California Highway Patrol wants to make sure drivers are aware they can't light up in the car as adult recreational use of cannabis is set to be allowed in 2018.
CHP says they are anticipating a rise in DUIs in the next year, and want drivers to know that cannabis use and driving won't be tolerated.
"Any kind of drug that impairs you, slows your reaction time, and makes you a danger to other people on the roadways," Officer Mike Radford said. "We will be actively searching for those drivers."
New Laws in 2018
A number of new traffic laws regulating cannabis are set to take effect in 2018, covering a wide range of issues.
"If you are going to be transporting it, it has to be sealed," Officer Radford said. "You cannot consume marijuana in any way inside your vehicle whether you're a driver or a passenger."
Dispensary owner Julie Montante says she feels a responsibility, to inform all clients about using her products in the right setting.
"We do request that they don't open the product onsite in the dispensary or the parking lot," she said. "They are to keep it sealed in their trunk until they reach their destination."
Montante says she does not want anyone using cannabis to become a DUI statistic, by making poor choices.
"We've been privileged to have this recreational use so we should abide by all laws," she said.
"We just want them to do it in a safe manner and we want to keep people on the roadways safe. That's our primary concern," Officer Radford said. "We don't want people to cause traffic collisions, injure or kill people."
CHP says if anyone is going to partake, the best measure is to put away the car keys. They also want to remind people that transporting any cannabis between state lines remains illegal, even if both states allow recreational use.
CHP says anyone suspected of being under the influence of cannabis would be subjected to field sobriety tests from a trained Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) as well as a blood test. DREs will check for things like pupil sizes in drivers.
"The California Highway Patrol required that all officers and sergeants last year receive 24 additional hours of DUI training focusing specifically on drug DUIs, so we wanted to make sure all of our officers out there looking and ready," Radford said.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15
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