Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Roadside Drug Testing in Michigan


Over the last couple of years, I have been having discussions with many folks about marijuana: professional colleagues, friends from other walks of life, family, etc. There is no shortage of opinions about marijuana in general, the medical applications of marijuana, and pending efforts to legalize recreational marijuana.

In light of that, I had an interesting article land in my inbox the other day. It seems that Michigan, the home state of ADE Incorporated, plans to establish a pilot program for roadside drug testing. At some point in 2016, the Michigan State Police plan to have a program in place, in five yet-to-be-named counties, where they will test drivers for drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

The testing will be saliva based and administered only by certified Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), of which the state currently has 99. These officers have specific training to help them identify drivers who may be impaired.

In general, the folks I have talked to have been in favor of this sort of program. There are some misunderstandings and lack of information that characterized some of these conversations, but in general people see this program as a step to combating what some perceive as an increased public safety issue.

But not everyone agrees, and they bring a different perspective to the table. "It will result in a lot of expensive litigation over how reliable - if at all - these tests are, how sensitive they are, and so on," says Steve Shelton, a Criminal Defense lawyer from Fenton, Michigan and a recent podcast guest. "I think it will also result in a lot of people being arrested for driving under the influence when they are not intoxicated, but have valid prescription drugs in their system. My fear is that these people are now going to be subjected to criminal charges every time they get pulled over and there's a police officer who wants to try out his new kit."

So clearly the debate will continue. I will follow the progress of the pilot program and perhaps revisit this in another blog. In the meantime, let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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