Grow, Gift, Repair

Driving impaired madness

A mandatory drug test — under threat of license suspension — is the lynchpin recommendation for new laws on stoned driving from the Legislature’s Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving. Currently, anyone pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving must submit to a test or face license suspension, but that’s not the case for suspected stoners. Unlike alcohol, which metabolizes quickly at measurable rates, the active chemical in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, can stay in the body for weeks.

The ACLU vows to oppose any such legislation because of concerns about the validity of the tests.

“We want to ensure that if motorists are faced with penalties such as losing their license for not taking a drug test that that test is scientifically proven to measure impairment,” said ACLU field director Matt Allen, a member of the special commission who was the lone “No” vote on the recommendations.

Kavaja added that the tests could face a constitutional challenge.

“No matter what the Legislature does, the SJC has been very clear about the constitutionality of taking someone’s bodily fluid,” Kavaja said. “It is unconstitutional to force someone to draw their saliva without a warrant.”