Maine Senate approves marijuana OUI bill

March 30th, 2016 by admin Leave a reply »

AUGUSTA –– The Senate voted 19-14 Wednesday to back a bill that establishes a blood level limit to determine whether a driver is impaired from marijuana use.

The vote followed a lengthy debate that, much like the national debate over marijuana impairment, did not break along party lines. Supporters argued that setting a blood limit is essential for helping police charge impaired drivers with operating under the influence. Opponents said the proposed limit will ensnare unimpaired drivers because the science is not settled on the appropriate threshold for THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

Some medical marijuana patients have also been critical of the bill, contending that their use of the drug may leave them with residual blood THC levels that would violate the standard.

The debate reflects policy discussions in other states as they grapple with efforts to legalize recreational or medicinal use of marijuana. The bill, L.D. 1628, now shifts to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

A majority of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted against the bill March 10. A minority of the committee argued that the state needs to establish testing protocols to ensure police and prosecutors are equipped to handle what a recent survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found was a marked increase in the percentage of drivers testing positive for marijuana.

Maine already has a medical marijuana law. A bid to legalize recreational use could appear before voters in November, pending a decision by a Superior Court justice on whether supporters submitted enough valid

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