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AAA Awards Grants to Police to Patrol Cannabis-Impaired Driving – Cannabis Wire

In recent years, AAA has become increasingly active around cannabis. Already, AAA has spoken out against legalization efforts in some states considering reforms. And now, AAA’s Auto Club Group has, for the first time, created a dedicated grant program aimed at reducing the number of cannabis-impaired driving collisions. 

Just over $100,000 is headed toward more than 30 police departments and sheriff’s offices across Illinois, as well as to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the ThinkFirst Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. The grants will be used toward public education, and to buy equipment for law enforcement officers. For example, some funds will go toward Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, a program developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Some funds will be used for ToxOptix X3 UV pen lights, which drug recognition experts sometimes use to help identify drug residue, and Fatal Vision Marijuana Goggles, which educators use to simulate the effects of cannabis consumption. The Illinois State Police was the largest single recipient, which received enough grant funding to purchase a goggles kit for each of its 21 districts. 

“ACG allocates funds every year for grants to support traffic safety in the communities we serve.  We focused on marijuana impaired driving this year because of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois, which took effect January 1,” Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA’s Auto Club Group midwest region, told Cannabis Wire. “We wanted to help educate the public on the dangers of using marijuana before driving, and help give law enforcement the tools they need to identify marijuana impairment on the roadside.” 

When asked if AAA’s Auto Club Group will launch similar efforts in other states with legal adult use cannabis, Jarmusz said, “We provide traffic safety grants every year, and marijuana impaired driving will continue to be a priority for us. But we have not yet decided if we will do another special round of grants exclusively for these items.”

There is no national standard yet for measuring cannabis impaired driving, as there is for alcohol. Determining intoxication is complicated by the fact that the effects of cannabis use vary depending on a person’s tolerance. Further, the exact form cannabis impairment takes on the road is poorly understood. While research is underway on breathalyzers and saliva tests, field sobriety tests conducted by police are the most common method for determining impairment.

Reliance on the discretion of law enforcement could have a greater impact on communities of color, as they are already more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis possession. A recent study from the Stanford School of Engineering found that, when it comes to pulled over drivers, the cars of those who are Black or Hispanic are searched more often by police than the cars of white drivers.

The full list of grant recipients includes: 

Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists Organization

Chicago Police Memorial Foundation

Child Care Resource & Referral Network/Illinois Department of Transportation

DuPage County Prevention Leadership Team

Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police

Illinois State Police

Illinois Liquor Control Commission

DuPage County Sheriff’s Office

Kane County Sheriff’s Office

Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office

National Organization of Black Law Enforcement – Chicago Metropolitan Chapter

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Rush Copley Hospital

ThinkFirst Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

Addison Police Department

Arlington Heights Police Department

Aurora Police Department

Bloomington Police Department

Campton Hills Police Department

Chatham Police Department

Chenoa Police Department

Crystal Lake Police Department

Deerfield Police Department

Elgin Police Department

Evanston Police Department

Glen Ellyn Police Department

Gurnee Police Department

Lake Zurich Police Department

Lincolnwood Police Department

Lockport Police Department

Maywood Police Department

Mendota Police Department

Minooka Police Department

Moline Police Department

Naperville Police Department

Niles Police Department

Oswego Police Department

Riverside Police Department

Rockford Police Department

Rockton Police Department

Roscoe Police Department

Tinley Park Police Department

Wheaton Police Department

Written by homegrownreview

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