Posted: Sep 25, 2013 9:32 PM by Lindsey Gordon - MTN News
Updated: Sep 26, 2013 10:13 AM
In less than one week, two big steps towards cutting down on drug use in the state will go into effect.
The new laws will help police crack down on designer drugs and those driving under the influence of THC.
The first of the two laws establishes a legal limit for THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets people high.
Unlike the .08 legal limit for blood alcohol content, law enforcement has had their hands tied for the longest time.
Detective Scott Finnicum of the Missouri River Drug Task Force said, "In the past we've just gone off of our normal field sobriety tests and the totality of the circumstances," and decided if an individual is under the influence.
"Notwithstanding the fact that we could test for it, without a legal limit that a person can have in their blood, we were unable to charge for driving under the influence of THC."
Now all that has changed with a blood test that will indicate blood alcohol and THC levels so that officials can prosecute for both.
Designer drugs are another problem the Montana Department of Justice and local law enforcement has struggled to keep up with.
"This new law coming into effect November 1st, will make any drug out there designed to simulate another drug illegal," MT Attorney General Tim Fox said.
"Can't prosecute, you know, can't help people get into treatment or anything like that when they're using these designer drugs."
"Spice, bath salts, are some of the more popular names. People have been marketing these things to minors and to children, frankly," Fox said.
The Attorney General said that these drugs have been proven to be harmful, if not fatal and that it's extremely important that the public is aware that they are as dangerous as other illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.
But keeping up with the trends and changes in designer drugs has been a challenge.
Fox said, "We boiled it down to the basic compounds, the building blocks if we will, of what we're seeing out there and all these different kinds of designer drugs and we put it right into the statute, what these compounds are and what they look like chemically and physically."
Authorities have been trying to make selling, manufacturing and possessing anything with those compounds, a criminal charge to stay on top of the game.
"We hope to blanket our ability to keep these things off the streets," Fox said.
The Attorney General has sponsored several other bills concerning public safety that go into effect October 1st.