Friday, April 17, 2009

420 enforcement


Metro police will be out in force to combat those driving under the influence on a day known as a holiday in the drug culture.

April 20, or 4/20, has come to be a day of widespread marijuana use, which Sergeant Daniel Graves of KCPD’s Traffic Investigation Unit said can mean danger on the road.

“People need to recognize that a DUI is not just from alcohol,” he said.

In fact, Kansas City police arrested 70 people in 2008 for DUIs that involved marijuana or other drug use. This number does not include those who were both drunk and high or those who refused a breath test.

Driving high can be deadly. So far this year, Kansas City, Mo., has recorded five fatality crashes in which drug use was involved, and pending toxicology reports could push that number higher. In 2007 and 2008, the counties of Jackson, Platte and Clay had nine people die in car crashes in which the driver was impaired by drugs, including marijuana. Another 40 people had disabling injuries in such crashes.

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has coordinated with other area police departments to saturate metro roadways April 20 to enforce traffic laws with a specific eye out for those who may be using marijuana. The officers will pay special attention to areas around schools.

Sergeant Graves said he wants to use the day to educate parents about the meaning of “420” and the culture surrounding it.

“It’s in all kinds of rap, hip hop and rock songs your kids may be listening to,” he said. “We’re finding that many parents don’t realize this code.”

The common story of how 420 came to represent the cannabis culture is that of high schoolers in San Rafael, Calif., who met after school in 1971 to smoke weed at 4:20 p.m. because that’s when detention let out. Marijuana enthusiasts extended that to 4/20, or April 20.

This year, 4/20 will mean heightened police presence on Kansas City-area roads and near schools.

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