Massachusetts Governor Pushes for Impaired Driving Legislation
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Massachusetts Governor Pushes for Impaired Driving Legislation

Gov. Charlie Baker says a bill to address impaired driving takes precedence over the push to allow social consumption cannabis lounges in the state.

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October 9, 2019

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is advancing plans to allow social consumption cannabis lounges in the state, but Gov. Charlie Baker is urging lawmakers to take up legislation on impaired driving before allowing the lounges to become a reality.

The CCC approved rules last month to allow adults to use cannabis on-site at certain establishments, according to a 1420 WBSM report, and now the state legislature needs to take action before a pilot program can launch in the state. Baker, however, said during an Oct. 7 press conference that lawmakers should not allow plans for social consumption lounges to move ahead until impaired driving concerns are addressed, according to the news outlet.

“While this idea still requires a change in statute before social consumption sites become a reality, this move underscores the reality that our commonwealth and our communities are facing new public safety challenges in the context of the legalization of the adult use of marijuana,” Baker said. “Just as the social consumption of alcohol is a major driver of impaired driving, these sites also create new challenges for our public safety officials seeking to keep our communities safe.”

Baker filed H. 71 earlier this year to address the issue of impaired driving following cannabis legalization in the state, WBSM reported. The bill tackles the detection of impaired drivers, how police officers should interact with drivers suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and how impaired driving cases should be handled in court.

Baker announced at Monday’s press conference that his bill “will equalize treatment of alcohol and drugs with respect to driving under the influence and aims to improve the process leading up to, during and after a suspected operating under the influence incident.”

H. 71 was referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, although the committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on the legislation.