As Californians prepare to vote next month on Proposition 64 to allow recreational use of marijuana, many law enforcement leaders and prosecutors warn that the state is ill-prepared to handle an expected significant increase in people driving under the influence of pot, the Los Angeles Times reports. Doug Villars, president of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, one of several criminal justice groups to oppose Proposition 64, said it’s a big concern. Proposition 64 would allow Californians to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes, and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. The measure would also impose a 15 percent tax on retail sales of the drug. The tax would generate $1 billion annually, including $15 million during the first five years for the California Highway Patrol to train law enforcement officers in the techniques to detect impaired driving and to establish statewide protocols and standards for identifying impaired drivers.
Law enforcement groups that oppose Proposition 64, including the California Police Chiefs Association, the California District Attorneys Association, the California Narcotic Officers Association, the California Peace Officers Association, and the California State Sheriffs’ Association, argue that standards need to be in place before voters consider legalization. The initiative is also supported by some in law enforcement, including Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the National Latino Officers Association. Opponents point to a study by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area that said marijuana‐related traffic deaths in Colorado rose 48 percent since 2013, when the state legalized recreational marijuana. “In the state of California we are going to start losing folks in astronomical numbers before we finally realize maybe we didn’t look at it thoroughly enough,” Villars said.