No plans for Vermont drugged-driving survey despite news of Colorado’s stoned motorists

WATERBURY, Vt. — The startling results of a Colorado Department of Transportation survey about marijuana-impaired driving don’t likely bode well for Vermont, but the head of Public Safety says his department has no plans to find out, even as the July 1 date for legal pot possession draws near.

According to the recent CDOT survey results, 69 percent of marijuana users have driven under the influence of cannabis in the past year. About 27 percent said they drive “high” almost daily.

CDOT heard from more than 11,000 people via an online survey and at three public events, including numerous “man-on-the-street” interviews, according to news reports.

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson told True North Reports on Tuesday that Vermont does not plan to conduct a survey similar to the one in Colorado.

state of Vermont

As commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Thomas D. Anderson oversees state police, emergency management, forensics and fire safety, among other divisions.

“The Department of Public Safety does not have any current plans to conduct a survey,” Anderson said. “Should the legislature determine that such a survey is appropriate in connection with ensuring the motoring public is protected from irresponsible individuals who consume marijuana and then drive, DPS stands ready to assist in completing the survey.”

Anderson said his department “will continue to monitor the experiences from Colorado” and other states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. However, he did not say whether Vermont has a grasp of how many potential Vermonters will also be driving while stoned.

“We recognize the dangers to people traveling our roadways may increase, which is why the Scott administration has strongly advocated for the introduction of oral fluid or saliva testing,” he said.

On March 2, the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.237 to allow saliva testing. The bill, if passed into law, could require as much as $300,000 to equip the state’s police cruisers with the tests. The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont said it will sue to block saliva testing if H.237 becomes law.

This year Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through its legislature. H.511, which Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed into law in January, decriminalizes possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for residents age 21 and older. It also allows cultivation of two mature and four immature pot plants.

Legalization of marijuana in numerous states has sparked a national debate over marijuana-impaired driving, including a 2017 report on the topic by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vermont has not been immune to the debate, with state law enforcement and safety officials voicing concerns earlier this year.

Anderson said plans for testing impaired motorists are pending, and will depend on what lawmakers do with the saliva testing bill.

“The Vermont House of Representatives passed legislation allowing for this test under the same standard for taking a breath sample when a motorist is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol,” Anderson said. “This legislation is now before the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee, and we hope to see it passed this session.”

During the House debate on H.237 in March, state Rep. David Potter, D-Rutland, the bill’s sponsor, said a saliva test becomes relevant once officers determine a driver is impaired. “The key to this whole process is you have to have a series of observations of impairment all the way down the line. This new technology is just adding evidence to help an officer decide if impairment is there,” he said.

H.237 includes a roadside testing provision for detecting tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and lowering the permissible blood alcohol content or BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05 for any person with “any detectable amount” of THC in the bloodstream. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of marijuana.

THC can be detected and quantified in blood, urine, hair, oral fluid or sweat using a combination of “immunoassay and chromatographic techniques as part of a drug use testing program or in a forensic investigation.”

The ACLU of Vermont and other opponents of saliva testing argue that saliva testing is useless since THC can remain in the bloodstream for weeks, and that such testing without a warrant would infringe on an individual’s personal privacy rights.

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at lvinvt@gmx.com.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jonathan Wilkins and state of Vermont
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13 thoughts on “No plans for Vermont drugged-driving survey despite news of Colorado’s stoned motorists

  1. Please, people have been driving stoned in this state since cars were no longer luxury goods. Making something legal or not doesn’t stop it from occurring. Before we had breathalyzers we had roadside sobriety tests why doesn’t this work with any impaired person? Is it that those who are under the influence of cannabis still have control of their faculties?

    • The people complaining about this are nothing but internet trolls. Nothing will change, Vermonters have been using cannabis for over 200 years. The substance was used as medicine and sold in every pharmacy across the country until 1937. Most everyone that will use cannabis under the new law – was ALREADY using it. No one noticed them driving erratically before because the didnt and they wont be. Cannabis users are much more careful and are NOT prone to crazy driving – they tend to drive SLOWER. Alcohol has always been the major problem and will continue to be

  2. Regarding the drug problem, the Legislators should be tested, they are a irrational bunch. They are the generation of hippies, flower children, “ME”, Woodstock (NY), LSD-Timothy Leary, Albert Hoffmann, baby boomer crowd, et al.

    Irrational thinking: 1) guns are a problem, but irrational people aren’t. 2) Impaired people kill people with cars, but that’s an unmentionable. VT (as per this article) doesn’t have a drug problem, promote drugs, get money from it. Coping a paragraph:

    “According to the recent CDOT survey results, 69 percent of marijuana users have driven under the influence of cannabis in the past year. About 27 percent said they drive “high” almost daily.”

    3) Tax people off their properties, that’s OK because “it’s for the children”. 4) Emotional “feel good” voting-laws.

    Just how irrational can they get? Test them fro drug use and competency.

  3. Listen, this state is headed down the drain with liberals running the show!!

    So VT has a DRUG problem that they cannot get a handle on and the first bill passed in the new session was a “Pot Bill.” What a pack of idiots and our fearless leader Scott signs it. WOW!

    And he had the “brass” to tell Vermonters that safety is job one for VT that’s why he also signed those three gun bills … Is there a pattern here??

    So there is NO way to tell how high you are while driving. Hell they cannot even enforce cell phone use while driving.

    This is Safety Governor. I guess it is in a Liberal’s Mind, Governor!

    • Your state is heading down the drain but it has nothing to do with cannabis, and everything to do with the Communists (Bernie/Leahy) you keep voting into office

  4. Drunk and/or drugged drivers found deceased by the side of the road should be tested for Pb first.

  5. The marijuana law was was rushed through our legislature just like the gun laws were. Both are laws that will not make schools any safer or Vermonters healthier. As I’ve stated many times. Our State legislature has an agenda and they were bound and determined to get their way. Shame on them all.
    VOTE THEM ALL OUT..

    • Vote them out for infringing on the 2nd amendment and for ruining your state with bullcrap laws and regulations. Praise them for common sense cannabis reform

  6. Oh no, we don’t want testing for being high on pot. These poor little left over hippies should be allowed tp get high, and kill some lady and her baby in a baby carriage. After al it would infringe on their right that’s right there in the constitution.
    Now on to guns. Nothing in the constitution about that is there? No, but dopeys are OK and allowed to cause damage and death. It’s right there as amendment 2 – s. S, stands for stupid.

    Now to return to sanity. I wonder where I can find it now.

    • There is nothing patriotic about you. Peanut butter kills more people than Cannabis does – but as of yet I hear no one complaining about peanut butter. You really want to make a difference try banning the prescription opiates that actually do kill people

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