Cannabis: MSP concerned over traffic safety

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(ABC 6 News) – 20 years of saving lives, that’s what the Minnesota Department of Transportation celebrated in Rochester Wednesday.

City officials, law enforcement agencies and members of the public attended the department’s yearly conference – with big issues on the agenda.

Cannabis is a big topic right now in Minnesota.

Wednesday, the state patrol acknowledged that Minnesota is well on its way to join the growing lists of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. But officers say there’s still a lot of unanswered questions and little time left to answer them.

MSP officials say the biggest issue is that there is no “legal limit” when it comes to marijuana like there is with alcohol, and with legalization, law enforcement is struggling with how to keep people safe and how to get high drivers off the roads.

“We’re worried about people getting in a car and smoking it while they’re driving and being high while operating a motor vehicle. That’s our biggest challenge. And then how do we have officers recognize it and act on it and get a conviction for a DWI, thats our biggest hurdle,” explained MN State Patrol Sgt. Eric Bormann.

Currently, officers use a number of tests like smell and increased pulse and body tremors to detect drug use. But many agencies are hopeful that a new roadside oral test could be key in figuring out if someone is driving high.

Statewide there are about 200 law enforcement drug recognition experts that play a huge role in determining impairment. But MSP says its not enough and hopes to increase that number to 500.