Capitol Alert

VIDEO: California legislator tests pot ‘breathalyzer’

mjones@sacbee.com

Cannabis users in California will spend Monday in a hazy homage to their informal national holiday. Many more could do so if California voters authorize recreational marijuana use in 2016.

Those who get stoned and then get behind the wheel would be more likely to get busted under legislation Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, promoted on Monday by publicly taking a drug test, though he called the event’s timing a coincidence.

Assembly Bill 1356 would authorize law enforcement to use technology to test drivers roadside for drug impairment using oral fluids. Like breathalyzers used to gauge alcohol use, devices testing oral fluid are far swifter than blood or urine tests.

Lackey and supporters like the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Narcotics Officers Association said the bill would help officers curb a spike in stoned driving that could follow legalization. It would not allocate any money to purchase new equipment (the device displayed on Monday retails for around $5,000 a unit).

“The number of drugged drivers is increasing rapidly, and those of us in law enforcement simply do not have the tools necessary to determine the level of impairment on anything other than alcohol,” said Ron Lawrence, chief of police for Rocklin. “If the legalization of marijuana is in our future, we in California law enforcement need to be prepared to deal with the roadways and safety precautions of tomorrow.”

Lackey volunteered to demonstrate the Alere DDS 2, which in addition to detecting marijuana within two to three hours of use, also registers drugs like cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine. He passed. A representative of the California Cannabis Industry Association did not. You can watch below:

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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