Both detractors and proponents of legal cannabis can, for the most part, agree on one thing—there should be a set of regulations for driving under the influence of marijuana. However, as it stands, most cannabis-legal states do not have a set of rules, or even, a viable way to accurately test drivers for cannabis consumption. Now, lawmakers in California are considering a set of regulations for one sector of the cannabis consumer community—underage users. Which begs the question: could drivers under 21 lose their license if caught with marijuana?
A New Initiative
California drivers under the age of 21 could lose their license for a year due to new regulations. Getting caught driving with cannabis could result in a year of hitchhiking and public transportation.
Much like alcohol, California residents must be 21 or over to purchase and legally consume pot. State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) explained that the upcoming provisions will also closely mirror pre-existing legislation. Especially when it comes to underage drinking and driving.
He added that “the state will adhere to a strict ‘zero-tolerance'” policy.
“This bill will save lives by making it illegal for drivers under age 21 to drive under the influence of marijuana, just like current law for alcohol,” Sen. Hill said in a statement.
The proposed bill, titled SB 1273, would test drivers suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis for delta-9- THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana.
However, this remains a challenge as the state does not have a way to measure the plant in the body. Nor do they have a way of determining a unified standard for impairment
“We don’t have a device in the field to measure impairment by cannabis,” said the California Highway Patrol.
Final Hit: Could Drivers Under 21 Lose Their License If Caught With Marijuana?
There are potentially severe implications for underage drivers. Despite this, the bill will take exception to medical marijuana patients.
Provided they have the necessary documents to prove they use the plant for strictly medical conditions. Still, testing those without one still remains in the premature stages of development.
The bill expects officers to perform either an oral swab saliva test or another chemical field test, but no such form of testing has proven to accurately test for cannabis, especially considering the fact that THC can remain in a regular smoker’s system for over a month.
It even shows up in urine tests. According to some of Hill’s aides, there are currently prototype devices being used in some California jurisdictions under limited use.
Michigan has also undergone a pilot program to test drivers saliva for a variety of drugs, including amphetamine, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates and cannabis.