CHP Marijuana Summit focuses on dangers of impaired driving

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Marijuana is legal in the State of California for recreational usage, but doing it and getting behind the wheel can be deadly.

On Monday, members of law enforcement throughout the state came to the Bay Area to focus on getting that message out to the public.

The legalization of marijuana in California and the impact on impaired driving is the focus of a marijuana traffic safety summit hosted by the California Highway Patrol in Dublin. 

CHP Officer Kristopher Borer says this is the first statewide joint law enforcement event focused on marijuana since its recreational use was legalized in 2018.

“Today, it’s about getting the community involved as well as out local agencies and educating everyone, trying to figure out what we can do to decrease the number of people driving while under the influence of marijuana,” Borer said.

Officer Borer says the importance of informing the public about the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana is the primary subject.

“Your judgment is impaired when you’re high or smoking marijuana and people don’t realize it because they do it on a regular basis when they are in their safe zone in their house, but once you’re in a car, you are in a deadly machine and you can hurt somebody, kill somebody,” Borer said. “It is very similar to alcohol. You are under the influence of a drug that is affecting your judgment.”

One of the presenters at the summit is Jennifer Knudsen. She is the Traffic Safety Resource prosecutor of Denver, Colorado.

She talks about the rise of impaired motorists driving under the influence of more than one drug.

“We’re just seeing more and more with marijuana but also with many drugs on board from many of the D.R.E. categories, on board which is obviously very dangerous,” Knudsen said. “Some drugs, we know generally what happens when you mix them, but a lot of people don’t even know what’s in their drugs. Where did they get them from? So obviously, that’s a whole nother issue.”

Believe it or not, the CHP says there are some members of the public who believe that recreational marijuana being legal means it is not against the law to drive while being high.

Officer Borer says that’s not the case. 

“Yes, it is against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana as well as alcohol or any drugs,” Borer said.

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