Thursday, October 31, 2013

Washington Drivers: Beware When Crossing State Lines

Changes in Washington State marijuana laws may put residents on the wrong side of the road when they cross state lines and travel to neighboring Idaho, Oregon and Canada. State’s marijuana changes are bound to have far-reaching implications across a wide variety of law-enforcement bodies and jurisdictions where pot is still illegal. As a result, Washington drivers crossing the perimeter of their state may find themselves victims of profiling.

Case in point: On a recent drive through Idaho, a journalist driving a vehicle bearing a Washington State license plate was pulled over after his car swerved across the line on the highway for just a second. The officer who pulled him over asked if he was driving impaired. The officer never mentioned alcohol or prescription drugs, which are rapidly becoming the number one reason for impaired driving. The officer, instead, focused on only one thing-marijuana.

A public information officer with the Idaho State police said that their state officers are aware of the many intoxicants they have to deal with, but stopped short of saying they put an emphasis on marijuana coming from Washington.

Profiling, even when drawn from the context of doing good, generally betrays that goodness. It becomes a prejudice in action, the most basic form of discrimination. No one wishes to experience discrimination, and the costs of profiling will vary from one individual to the next. However, it may be the price Washingtonians will be forced to pay for being the first to test the waters of legalized marijuana.

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