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OSHP has no plans to increase patrols, with legal marijuana available in Michigan

Marijuana
Posted at 10:48 AM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 18:29:49-05

CLEVELAND — The Ohio/Michigan border could create more headaches for law enforcement in Ohio since Michigan legalized recreational marijuana on Dec. 1, 2019.

A two-hour drive west of Cleveland brings you to Morenci, Michigan where one of that state's recreational marijuana dispensaries is right on the Ohio border.

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With recreational marijuana dispensiaries so close to the Ohio/Michigan border, Ohio State Patrol is keeping an eye out for drivers bringing recreational marijuana, which is illegal in Ohio, into the state.

"It does present challenges," said Ohio Highway Patrol Sergeant Ray Santiago.

Sgt. Santiago says one of those challenges is people crossing the state line bringing recreational marijuana into Ohio, where it is still illegal.

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"When probable cause is established, troopers will take that prohibitive marijuana and take action," said Sgt. Santiago.

OSHP is keeping an eye out for the illegal drug, but they aren't necessarily increasing patrols.

Illinois raked in more than $3 million in legal recreational marijuana sales in just one day
Illinois raked in more than $3 million in legal recreational marijuana sales in just one day when the state allowed legal recreational marijuana sales on January 1, 2020.

"We haven't done anything in particular as far as increased patrols around those areas," said Sgt. Santiago. "We're going to remain highly visible as we've always have."

Being visible, trying to prevent people from driving under the influence of any type of marijuana.

A study from the University of Michigan surveyed nearly 800 medical marijuana users and found:

  • 56% admitted to driving within two hours of getting high
  • Nearly 50% admitted to being high behind the wheel
  • 21% said they had driven very high

"Just last year, troopers made close to 2,400 OVI arrests just based on marijuana impairment alone," said Sgt. Santiago.

That was mostly before Michigan's dispensaries opened. With recreational marijuana so new in the state, there still isn't any data yet on increases in marijuana related seizures across Ohio's highways.

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Defense Attorney Ian Friedman has worked with marijuana cases before and he expects a spike in the near future.

"Have I seen it, just since it's gone recreational in Michigan? No," said Friedman. "But will it? Yes. And I state that just based on my history and experiences with these cases."

The City of Cleveland is considering removing all penalties for possessing less than 200 grams of marijuana within the city. See our latest coverage here.