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State officials warn drivers: Don’t get high on pot and drive

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File

Amid traditional advice to leave early, expect plenty of company and to use public transit wherever possible, state officials added a new admonition to the Thanksgiving travel troika: Don’t use marijuana and drive.

Sales of recreational marijuana at stores in Leicester and Northampton begin Tuesday, eliminating restrictions on cannabis consumption previously limited to those authorized to possess and use it for medical reasons.

Jeff Larason, director of highway safety for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, made note of the major social and legal change during the annual Thanksgiving press conference by state transportation officials on Monday.


“Recreational marijuana is going to be sold” in Massachusetts, he said. “Cannabis is an impairment. It doesn’t affect everybody in the same way, but it is an impairment especially when its mixed with other substances.”

Larason urged travelers to separate their cannabis from their travel plans, and to doubly make sure not to mix alcohol with marijuana and to then get behind the wheel. Wednesday during the Thanksgiving week, he noted, is informally known as “Blackout Wednesday” for the high level of alcohol consumption.

He also urged drivers to shut off their phones once they get behind the wheel.

He said State and local police will be out on the state’s highways and roads, but added that there was not going to be an increase in the number of troopers in connection with the new rules for cannabis consumption.

Marijuana or not, the officials said that the Thanksgiving holiday remains one of the busieset of the year at Massport’s Logan International Airport, on highways and on some MBTA subway lines, especially those that connect travelers to Logan.

Acting Massport Chief Executive Officer John Pranckevicius said that an estimated 1.5 million people are expected to travel through Logan between Wednesday and Sunday. He said Massport’s goal is “to make travel, safe and stress free so you can experience what matters most - being with loved ones during this holiday season.”


Travelers are urged to check Massport’s website or a flight tracking website as their scheduled flight time nears.

Pranckevicius urges air travelers to confirm their flight schedule before they head to Logan, and to arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight to make sure they have enough time to get through Transportation Security Administration security checks along with increased traffic volume.

MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver noted that the National Weather Service is predicting a wintry mix of weather for mid-week and for Sunday, the return date for the holiday. MassDOT will offer free coffee at 18 service plazas starting at 10 p.m, Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday.

The HOV lane on the Southeast Expressway will be open at 2 p.m. Tuesday and even earlier - 1 p.m. - on Wednesday. The Sumner tunnel “swing lane” will open at Tuesday at 1 p.m. and remain in place until 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26.

The MBTA will focus extra help on the Blue Line and the Silver Line 2, both of which ferry passengers to Logan Airport, and will operate on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramirez.

AMTRAK, the nation’s passenger railway, pointedly notes that its passengers can bring on two bags, each weighing as much as 50 pounds - for free, in contrast to airlines that often charge for baggage.


John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.