Matt Ironside, who works as a senior producer for operations for the Seattle Times, found himself writing a guest piece for his paper’s opinion section following a visit to Idaho next door. It seems that at least one police officer suspects everybody crossing the border may be driving baked.
When I saw the cruiser’s rollers light up behind me, I ran through the mental checklist: Speeding? Not even close. Taillight out? I checked them the night before. The tabs were up to date, so I was puzzled as to what it could be about. I had hesitated a bit on the lane change I’d just made, but it was so slight — a brief moment of indecision that caused my tire to cross the lane line. As it turns out, that’s all a curious trooper needs.
The officer’s first question was if I were driving impaired. The remainder of the conversation had to do with one thing and one thing only: marijuana.
I was asked questions such as: Was I in possession of a Washington state medical-marijuana card? Was I aware of Washington state marijuana laws? I was even asked, “Have you ever used marijuana?” (Because what I did on weekends when I was 22 would have a great deal of impact on my driving decades later.)
He was not asked about alcohol or any other drugs – just the Mary Jane.
Reason’s Jacob Sullum has written about driving under the influence of marijuana here and in a sidebar in his extensive cover story about Colorado’s marijuana legalization processes in our November 2013 issue of Reason hitting the stands now. It should not come as a surprise that the officer would have to find some minor issue to pull Ironside over, as studies show many people are capable of driving just fine with modest amounts of marijuana in their system.
(Hat tip to former Reason editor Mike Riggs, now writing over at Atlantic Cities)