Now with legalization only a week away, Ottawa admits that there is still plenty to be ironed out. Amongst several key issues, most notably is how police will implement procedures for what will inevitably be an onslaught of drug-impaired driving charges.
According to the government of Canada’s impaired driving laws, with amendments recently taking effect this past June, police will now be able to arbitrarily test a driver for being under the influence of cannabis without any probable cause. Officers will now have the power to dole out Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST), typically administered at the roadside to any and all motorists they decide to pull over. In addition to said field tests, officers can also force a driver to submit to both oral fluid drug screening, as well as blood samples during roadside pull-overs.
However the problem the police and federal government are facing is the efficacy of the aforementioned tests. For starters, police will have to take blood samples within a two-hour window. Additionally, the roadside cannabis testing device itself does not come without its own set of concerns. The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is the first oral drug test system approved by both the federal government and Canadian law enforcement.
The process first entails taking a sample of the motorist’s saliva, which is then tested on the spot for the presence of drugs. This initial procedure is similar in technology to pregnancy sticks and takes about ten minutes to administer. Those testing positive for drugs can then be subjected to a following blood test, to determine the exact quantity of drugs in the driver’s system.
The major concern with the Dräger 5000 is its reliability. The device can only compute reliable results when used in temperatures between 4 and 40 degrees Celsius, which unfortunately is not suitable for Canadian winters. Furthermore, only trained officers will be able to administer the tests. At the moment, only 833 local officers and 240 RCMP officers have been trained, falling far short of the 2,000 Law Enforcement Canada believes would be needed to enforce the new laws.
Many police forces around the country are also concerned over the price tag of the Dräger 5000, which will cost $6,000 per device. The National Post reported last month that many are holding off from ordering the machines. It appears that there are other companies working hard on getting their marijuana detection technology test to market.
Two Canadian startups out of Waterloo are working on their own proprietary technology of detecting marijuana inebriation using eye-tracking software, VR headsets and machine learning algorithms. Guard-Ex and SannTek are betting on vastly different technologies to detect impairment. The market for impairment tests around the world is expected to climb to $6 Billion dollars.
A recent article from newswire conducted a user poll of Canadians and reported that most are concerned about these new rules going into affect, the new power police have over citizens during routine roadside stops and how it is going to effect street safety in communities post legalization on October 17th.
Whatever happens, once legalization comes into effect, count on a whole slew of legal and procedural minefields to manoeuvre.
*As always Boutique Cannabis advises it’s customers on the safe medical use consumption of our products. We do not ever condone irresponsible or unsafe behaviour and always urge everyone to use their common sense and to adhere to their local laws when it comes to driving.