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As Pot Shops Open in Mass., N.H. Police Warn of Marijuana-Impaired Driving



Two stores in Massachusetts began selling recreational marijuana today, but police are reminding people in New Hampshire to be careful.

State law says someone can be arrested if they have more than three quarters of an ounce of marijuana and charged with a felony if they have over an ounce with intent to distribute.

Transporting marijuana across state lines is a federal crime.

Tuftonboro Police Chief Andrew Shagoury, president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, is one of the state's major critics of marijuana legalization. He doesn't anticipate a big uptick in New Hampshire residents driving across state lines to legally purchase pot, but he says he's worried about driver safety.

Shagoury says no states have developed a good system for dealing with a driver under the influence of marijuana.

A police officer who suspects a driver is impaired needs probable cause to search the car for marijuana, and as of now, there's no good test for measuring level of impairment. 

"It's very difficult to deal with somebody impaired by marijuana because there's no accepted amount, there's no easy way to detect it on the side of the road, and even when the high is - quote - 'gone,' it is still impairing your ability to operate a vehicle," he says.

Based on recommendations he's seen in other states, Shagoury says that people should wait at least six hours after ingesting marijuana before driving.




Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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