Maryland Veto Debate Highlights Absence of Research on Marijuana-Impaired Driving
(WASHINGTON)—Maryland state legislators voted today to override legislation vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan decriminalizing the possession of marijuana including its consumption or smoking while driving. In response, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President and CEO Craig Wolf pointed out that this action underscores the need for clear and scientifically-based assessment protocols for law enforcement to use in eliminating marijuana-impaired driving.
“WSWA worked to secure passage for provisions in the recently passed, bipartisan federal highway bill to help define such standards and set in place government action to arm law enforcement with the same measurement guidelines—based on sound science—that have been used for decades to address driving under the influence of alcohol,” Wolf said.
The Maryland law, SB 517, upheld by today’s veto override, effectively deleted language previously in state law that read “A person may not use marijuana in a motor vehicle on a highway.” State law enforcement officials had raised concerns that the deletion of this provision would effectively legalize marijuana consumption while driving and eliminate law enforcement’s probable cause protections.
“Public safety experts are unanimous in the belief that marijuana consumption negatively impacts the ability to drive a car, however, there is currently no scientific consensus regarding the level at which marijuana consumption impairs a driver and no effective way to measure this impairment in the field. The debate over SB517 highlighted this problem,” Wolf added.
While WSWA is neutral on the issue of marijuana legalization, the association is committed to providing lawmakers with the information they need to address the growing threat of driving under the influence of drugs. Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a 100 percent increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana since it was legalized in that state.
WSWA has worked to educate governors and attorneys general about the need to address these concerns and the need to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to beverage alcohol—a system that has proven effective in the eight decades since Prohibition was repealed.
to read a detailed press release on the WSWA-supported provisions regarding drug-impaired driving included in the federal highway bill.
WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has 362 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States. More information is available at www.wswa.org
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