Marijuana Matters: Vt. State Police prepare a new enforcement model
With possession of marijuana becoming legal in the next few weeks, Vermont State Police have issued a training bulletin to lay out how the laws will be enforced come July 1.
Although legal weed is something public safety officials say they will have to get used to, some enforcement policies, like DUIs, will remain the same. "We want to be very clear that the law doesn't change when we talk about intoxication or impairment," said Vermont State Police Captain Jim Whitcomb.
Police are making it clear that driving while high, even though possession is legal under certain cases, is still a crime. "Consuming marijuana however -- that puts you and the public potentially in danger on the highway," said Vermont State Police Lt. John Flannigan.
The new guidelines now give State Police more direction on how to handle marijuana cases.
Starting July 1, adults 21 and over can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and an adult can cultivate two mature plants and four immature plants.
"It's going to be a change, and we're going to -- we're up to this task. It's something that we do on a regular basis. New laws are enacted and the State Police adapts," Capt. Whitcomb said.
In a meeting Monday, State Police officials said they are looking into getting scales for cruisers as a way to measure the drug. They are also looking at adding 10 more drug recognition experts -- there are 50 right now statewide. Police K-9s will also no longer be trained to sniff out marijuana.
"The law is going to be developed in a way that enforcement occurs over months," Capt. Whitcomb said.
State Police said they will be working closely with State's Attorneys on cases as they go forward. Troopers couldn't go into hypothetical situations but they do say there is going to be case law in the future to help them enforce these changes.