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Michigan legislators discuss possible roadside test for marijuana impairment

Elsa Olofsson
It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in Michigan, even though there is currently no roadside testing method available.

Michigan legislators are considering allowing police to use a saliva test to detect marijuana use.

State Rep. Gary Howell’s (R-North Branch) bill (HB 4701) would allow law enforcement, as the technology becomes available, to begin roadside saliva testing for THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

Howell told the House Judiciary committee Tuesday that officers now have to rely on their own judgment if a driver is impaired by marijuana.

“If you do not have the saliva test, then it’s going to be even less objective,” Howell told the committee.

But the legislation does not set a legal standard, such as what's in place for alcohol breathalyzer tests.

During the same committee hearing, State Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) questioned adopting a road sobriety test without a standard.

“If you can articulate [standards], then write them down,” LaGrand said, “And If you can’t articulate them, then it’s not a test.”

The committee did not take action on the legislation.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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