Police tasked with new enforcement laws as recreational marijuana is legalized in CT
With the signing of the recreational marijuana bill, police departments now have just over a week until they begin to enforce different laws.
"We believe the law is certainly here to stay," says Officer Mike DeVito, of the Milford Police Department. He says the department expected the recreational marijuana law to pass, but expected more time to train their officers.
"They are pretty good at determining impaired drivers with alcohol, so now this is just another skill we are going to have to teach and, I guess you could say, kind of quickly," he says.
Gov. Ned Lamont is confident that police departments can learn from the states where recreational marijuana has previously been legalized.
"They've been pulling over people for distracted driving ever since the '60s, so I think they know what to do. We have got to keep people safe," Lamont says.
Departments will increase their number of Drug Recognition Experts.
Starting April 2022, impaired drivers would have to take a drug influence evaluation or lose their license.
Under the new law, it's illegal to smoke marijuana in a car, but an officer can't pull a driver over just because they think someone is.
"The odor of marijuana was an indicator in the past, but now it's not because its legal," DeVito explains.
DeVito adds that besides despite the new challenges of whether a driver is impaired by the drug, or using while driving, their job cracking down on dealers remains the same.
"The black market still exists because you can't quite purchase from the dispensaries until May of 22," DeVito says, when they are slated to open in Connecticut. Marijuana cannot be grown in a household until 2023.
Lamont says the state will hold a detailed briefing on the law and how it impacts police.