Vermont State Police prepares troopers for marijuana legalization

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Like it or not, starting July 1st people in Vermont will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

“We’re very used to new changes and the troopers adapt to these changes,” said Captain James Whitcomb, Vermont State Police Staff Operations Commander.

The agency is providing troopers a summary of the new law in an updated training bulletin. But many situations will be dealt with case-by-case.

Whitcomb said, “We have advised our troopers to take this training bulletin, but almost more importantly make sure they are interacting with their local state’s attorneys because that’s a partnership will certainly play out.”

Troopers are also being advised on determining probable cause.

“The mere smell of marijuana in a vehicle obviously does not at this point, and the training bulletin directs troopers to this, does not constitute probable cause to conduct a search of a vehicle,” explained Whitcomb.

State police say there will also be operational changes.

Whitcomb said, “We are looking at potentially purchasing items like scales for cruisers, those are some of the changes… Our K-9s are now not being trained to indicate marijuana.”

The agency is also looking to add more drug recognition experts and will enhance roadside impairment training.

“We understand that the public safety need and necessity to be able to recognize impairment when it comes to cannabis and other drugs, in many cases it can be a lot different than an alcohol impaired driver,” said Lieutenant John Flannigan, Safety Programs Commander.

Flannigan says although there is a new law, driving impaired is still illegal.

“Marijuana and other drugs have the potential to cause impairment and when we are operating a motor vehicle, we need to have our faculties and making good decisions,” said Flannigan.

Which is why for the most part, things for state police will remain the same as the new law develops.

Whitcomb said, “We’re going to be aggressive in our pursuit of impaired operators and that does not change.”

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