July 27th, 2021 at 12:00 pm
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New Mexico State Police are being taught to look for signs of impairment during traffic stops instead of targeting cannabis users.
Unlike alcohol, there isn’t an accurate way to determine the level of impairment that a cannabis user is experiencing. This is because there has been little research into the effects of using cannabis over time and the tolerance that users can build against its psychotropic properties. Experts believe that the answer to safely detecting impairment without targeting all cannabis users is more comprehensive field sobriety examinations rather than testing for THC levels—a practice which can lead to faulty results since THC can stay in a person’s system for months.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, $750,000 has been given to the Department of Public Safety to train officers in the Drug Recognition Expert certification program. To determine if a driver is operating their vehicle while impaired, officers will use a standard field sobriety test for both alcohol and drugs. Drivers will be evaluated based on erratic driving, bloodshot eyes, impaired speech and the presence of the smell of marijuana. The smell of cannabis will no longer be used as the basis for suspicion of illegal activity, however.
State police Capt. Micah Doering told reporters that officers in the Drug Recognition Expert program