The Michigan Legislature (in a reportedly bipartisan fashion) is looking for more inventive ways to waste tax dollars.
The Detroit Free Press reports today how there’s a bill in the works that would utilize a questionable testing method to determine if someone is too stoned to drive:
Under a bill proposed in Lansing, Michigan could become the first state to adopt a roadside saliva test that aims to tell police whether a driver is impaired due to consuming pot.
Saliva testing is being pushed by a bipartisan group of Michigan legislators and championed by the Michigan State Police. But researchers who’ve studied the test method said results are inconsistent and especially misleading when applied to regular users of cannabis, such as the more than 100,000 Michiganders who are allowed to use medical marijuana.
According to the article, the saliva testing for marijuana is a poor method to determine if a person’s impaired to drive. Unlike alcohol which quickly permeates throughout the body and can thus be easily measured through the blood level, marijuana’s THC levels can’t be as easily determined because THC affects the nervous system, and saliva is outside the nervous system.
The more important reason for this law is probably best explained by Republican state Rep. Dan Lauwers:
Under Lauwers’ proposal, motorists would not be arrested simply for failing the saliva test but only after being pulled over for “erratic driving,” the lawmaker said. The saliva test would add confirming evidence to justify an arrest, just as portable breath testers do in cases of drunken drivers, Lauwers said.
I’m all for keeping our roads safe, but this bill appears to be just another way for authorities to incarcerate more people. There is an amendment to the bill granting a waiver to Michigan’s 100,000 thousand medical marijuana users. But if we’re advocating for safe roads, why not keep the same standards for those who are allowed to smoke medical marijuana?
The legislature is pushing forward with this legislation despite all of the unanswered questions, the most glaring being how reliable is this test?
Incidentally, which company would provide these tests, and has this company done any lobbying in Michigan?