The association that represents district attorneys in New York remains concerned the finalized agreement to legalize adult-use cannabis products and allow for limited marijuana plants in homes does not sufficiently address the potential for impaired driving after a person ingests cannabis.
The agreement is set to be voted on this week after a final bill was announced Saturday night by state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The measure had hit a final snag over traffic safety issues, which had previously been raised by law enforcement groups as well as the New York State PTA.
Local prosecutors acknowledge New York's law governing driving while intoxicated are lacking prior to the bill's agreement and are supportive of keeping impaired driving a misdemeanor offense in the final bill.
"While the defects in New York State’s DWAI laws have existed for years, the problems will be exacerbated by the legalization of marijuana and edibles containing THC," said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, the president of the District Attorneys Association of New York. "There will soon be many new and odorless ways of ingesting marijuana into your body that will cause observable impairment, but because of the requirement to name the substance, prosecutors will not be able to hold someone accountable who drives under the influence."
The marijuana legalization agreement is seen as a major criminal justice reform victory for advocates as well as the for the lawmakers who have backed the measure for years in the Legislature.
Lawmakers also acknowledged the need for Drug Recognition Experts and roadside tests do not yet exist for detecting marijuana impairment.
“Drug Recognition Experts are only part of the solution and may not always be able to detect if someone has ingested edibles that will be legal to sell and purchase under the new law,” Doorley said. “We urge our lawmakers to consider a more consistent way of defining impairment under our laws.”