State law makers are closer to legalizing Marijuana in New York. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 30 day amendments that would establish a cannabis use program in New York State using a $100 million social equity fund. The program would enable use of delivery services and reduce penalties for criminality of improper sales. However, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol is against legalizing the substance. He says there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to enforcement of driving while impaired.
When it comes to drinking and driving, police officers can test a person’s BAC (blood alcohol content) with a breathalyzer. However, when it comes to the use of Marijuana and driving, “There is currently no technology available for us to test for the presence of Marijuana on the road side. It doesn’t exist.” —Maciol
When there is an issue of impairment of drugs, they have to call in D-R-E Officers, Drug Recognition Experts.
“There’s only a few of them. I can count on one hand how many are in this entire county, all the agencies combined. These drug recognition experts, they’re specially trained. It’s extensive training, in most cases isn’t even offered in the state.”
If Marijuana becomes Legal, Maciol says driving while impaired will increase and they will have to respond.
“I need to have specially trained law enforcement officers available 24 hours a day to be able to deal with this. We barely have that now.”
The Sheriff’s Department would need at least six to 10 D-R-E officers and with the lengthy training, they will have to find people to fill in for the time being.
“It’s critical because here we have yet another mandate or a law put down by the state with no funding to back it up. So where do we get the funding? Where do I get the D-R-E’s from?”
If marijuana becomes legal, the sheriff’s department will no longer be able to use their drug detection dogs.
“Up until recently, all dogs were trained in Marijuana. Obviously Heroin, Cocaine or other drugs of choice but marijuana has always been the baseline one. So once Marijuana becomes legal, we cannot tell the dog well you can still sniff for Heroin and Cocaine but no longer Marijuana. they cannot communicate with us. they don’t know what is is they’re detecting.”
Because of this, they become decommissioned or if a jail needs a dog it can be sent their for the use of picking out contraband. In the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, they already have a dog in the jail.
Sheriff Maciol believes the department will have a mess on their hands if this becomes legal.