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State Police Ramping Up Training, Drug Testing Efforts Ahead of New Cannabis Law

Inventorchris via Flickr

Illinois’ weed legalization law won’t take effect until next year, but the Illinois State Police is wasting no time. That agency is preparing to enforce new regulations surrounding legal cannabis.

Brendan Kelly, acting director of the State Police, states the more obvious of those regulations:

“You still can’t be driving around with a pound of weed in the front seat of your car. That’s still against the law," he said. "You can’t be under the influence of cannabis while you are driving, so there’s been some regulation and laws put in place."

The new law gives the State Police nearly $5 million for enforcement activities.

Just how the State Police will test a driver’s intoxication level is still up in the air, though the department is already researching methods. The law set standards for the amount of THC a driver can legally be intoxicated with, but how to accurately detect it isn’t as clear as it is for drugs like alcohol.

Kelly says the department is looking into saliva based testing, technology that other states have used that “shows promise.” State troopers already have to deal with drivers who are intoxicated on any number of drugs. Necessity, he says, is the mother of invention.

"Forty years ago there were no breathalyzers to be able to detect people who are driving under the influence of alcohol, but that technology developed," he said. "That’s why it’s gonna be very important to the Illinois State Police to find that technology in other states that’s been working there, and be able to develop that and deploy that here in the State of Illinois.”

In the meantime, the State Police will be ramping up new training techniques for cadets, and finding marijuana arrest records to expunge. Anyone who was arrested but not convicted for up to 30 grams of pot is eligible to have their record automatically wiped. Anyone convicted with up to 30 grams will have to go through a process intended to lead to a pardon from the governor.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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