Police in Canada will soon have access to new testing technology to help check drivers for intoxication from cannabis and other substances, The Canadian Press reports.
The saliva screening equipment will be used primarily to test for THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The technology will be made available to police departments across the country but ultimately it will be up to each department to decide individually whether to use it.
Manufacturers suggested the technology could be ready for police departments in the next four to six weeks.
Federal officials have pledged $161 million for a public awareness campaign about drugged driving and to help fund police departments’ training exercises and drug-testing equipment over the next five years. Law enforcement officials had a goal of training 2,000 officers by October to spot drug-impaired drivers, but the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police announced last month that it will likely not reach that goal.
Canada’s legalization bill authorized roadside intoxication tests despite concerns that the technology might falsely identify a user as intoxicated because of cannabis found in their system — whether they were actually stoned or had just used the night before, or even earlier that week. Proponents of the technology are concerned that legalization will lead to a surge of stoned drivers and an uptick in car accidents and other consequences of having more intoxicated drivers on the roads.
“There’s no suggestion in any of this. That people are going to be jumping into their cars when they weren’t before — they were users that weren’t jumping into their cars and now that’s it’s legal and will now be jumping into their cars high.” — Andrew Mason, criminal defense lawyer with the Scott Phelps & Mason law firm, via Global News
Cannabis will become legal in Canada for adults 18 and older on October 17.