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Baltimore County Police train to detect when a driver is high

Cannabis Impaired Drivers
Posted at 5:52 PM, May 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-17 18:27:37-04

BALTIMORE COUNTY — Volunteers smoked marijuana in front Baltimore County Police officers Wednesday. It's part of their "green lab" that trains officers on how to recognize drivers under the influence of cannabis.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana July 1, the department wants officers to be prepared for impaired drivers.

Medical marijuana users volunteered to get high and then assessed by Baltimore County Police Officers. Not the usual day on the job.

It's part of the cannabis impaired driving lab--training officers on signs, symptoms, and behavior when someone has smoked pot and decided to get behind the wheel.

"We can't just go on the 'I smell marijuana, so they must be impaired' theory anymore, we need to evaluate folks and really be fair about determining whether they are impaired or not,” Jeff Schaub, police officer with Baltimore County DUI Task Force.

Volunteers arrived at the Chesapeake Region Safety Council, where their vitals were checked and then it was time to get down to business. Filling the table with their own smoke supplies.

Mack Dawson has volunteered four times for the training. He says he hopes to provide a better understanding between officers and users, improving their relationship.

"Bridging the gap of communication with this is what this medicine can do for me and this is what someone looks like if someone has impairment and this is what it looks like someone who is just not on the right path,” said Mack Dawson, who volunteered for the “green lab.”

After two and half hours of smoking their own medical marijuana, the volunteers then stepped outside for a sobriety test from the Baltimore County Police Department.

"The main thing that we teach at Baltimore County and really every county is the walk and turn and one leg stand test,” said Schaub.

Then volunteers hopped on their phone for a druid test. An app that tests cognitive and motor skills, scoring the level of impairment.

"They did use their own phone, they downloaded the app so they achieved their baseline beforehand so after when the officers talk to them they are also going to take a druid test and it will give them their score,” said Chris Bensley, COO for Impairment Science.

Before the volunteers were transferred home, results were shared between the volunteers and different departments. The Baltimore County Police Department hosts this lab six times a year.