Berrien County is six weeks into a year-long pilot program to test impaired drivers for marijuana usage.
Seven police officers in Berrien County are trained to administer tests that check for traces of marijuana, a component called Delta-9 Tetrahydro Cannabinoid, in a driver’s saliva.
Trooper Jim Janes is a Drug Recognition Expert with the Michigan State Police in Niles. He says drivers must first be pulled over for erratic driving or another offense before the test is administered.
“They’ll give them a preliminary breath test and if that comes back at a low level or a zero it’s showing that alcohol is not the cause of the impairment then they might be offered an oral fluid swab test.”
The test may also be used at the scene of accidents where drug use is suspected to be a cause.
Janes said the test can detect marijuana up to 12 hours after use. He said if a driver tests positive, they won’t be immediately arrested but tested further using other methods.
For the study all tests involve a second swab that is sent to an independent lab to verify results.
Janes said he thinks the program is going well so far. He says the pilot program being conducted in five counties statewide will finish in November next year. Results will be released in early 2019.