It’s not often that we laud the efforts of politicians but the courage of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker deserves notice. He is the sponsor of Bill H.4255 filed Nov 10, 2021, the Trooper Thomas Clardy law.
While conducting a traffic stop, Trooper Clardy was killed by a driver who subsequently tested positive for marijuana’s THC.
The bill implements recommendations of a special commission established in Massachusetts on “Operating under the Influence and Impaired Driving.”
Included in the bill is, “In any prosecution for a violation of paragraph (a) in which it is alleged that a defendant’s operation of a motor vehicle was impaired, in whole or in part, by the consumption of marijuana, marijuana products, or other forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the court may take judicial notice that the ingestion of THC can cause impairment in motorists; that it can impair motor function, reaction time, tracking, cognitive attention, decision-making, judgment, perception, peripheral vision, impulse control, and memory; and that ingestion of THC does not enhance a motorist’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.”
It’s nice to see a bill aimed directly at misinformation coming from the marijuana lobby. The bill also includes a broad definition of marijuana in its open container law, permits DREs to testify as experts, permits the use of electronic warrants, and authorizes exploration into the use of oral fluid testing.
The Boston Globe’s Daniel Adams challenged the law on three counts:
1. DREs are unreliable. The fact is that they are the validated standard used worldwide. Adams appears to be unaware that officer observations are the only way to prove DUI. A BAC of 0.08% proves DUI per se, not DUI.
2. The author bemoans the lack of a “reliable pot breathalyzer.” He does not appear to realize that data from roadside breathalyzers are not admissible in court to prove DUI. Only data from an evidentiary breath testing device may be used for that purpose. Why would data from a roadside “pot breathalyzer” be treated any differently from an alcohol preliminary breath tester?
3. The author suggests that the legislature has no authority to tell the courts how to practice law and admit the testimony of DREs. Yet the legislature does have the authority to tell doctors how to practice medicine with medical marijuana. And the legislature is staffed with more lawyers than doctors.