The federal government has approved roadside oral drug screening equipment to detect cannabis impairment.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould announced, in a news release on Monday, that the government has approved the first “oral fluid drug screening equipment” for use by law enforcement.
The government said that the saliva screening test will be used to detect the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in cannabis that causes impairment, and cocaine in a driver who is suspected of having a drug, or drugs in their body.
Jody Wilson-Raybould commented, “Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. Keeping our roads safe means ensuring law enforcement has the tools they need to deter and detect drug-impaired driving. I would like to thank the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science for their continued work in evaluating drug screening equipment. We are giving law enforcement the tools, technology, and the resources they need to protect Canadians on the road.”
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale said the federal government will provide $81 million to provinces and territories to help support them with the purchase of approved drug screening devices, training and capacity building.
“The percentage of Canadian drivers who are fatally injured in vehicle crashes and test positive for drugs already exceeds the percentage who test positive for alcohol. The problem exists right now and we are implementing new tools to deal with it. Police are already trained to detect the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving. Drug screening equipment provides another valuable tool to support the enforcement of our laws,” said Mr. Goodale.
The government points out that law enforcement officers are trained to identify impaired drivers, and currently have a number of tools at their disposal, such as Standard Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation, to detect impaired driving.
Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair stated, “As a former police officer I can attest to the carnage caused by impaired drivers. Pending legalization of cannabis does not give a driver the right to endanger themselves or others by driving impaired. Drug screening equipment will further enhance law enforcement efforts to combat impaired driving. If you are going to use cannabis once it becomes legal, or use cannabis for medical purposes, be smart, be safe and don’t drive.”
The government posted the following facts pertaining to road safety and strengthening laws to punish more severely those who drive while impaired by alcohol and drugs:
- Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.
- On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-46 and it received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018 when the drug-impaired driving parts came into force. The new law is a modern, simplified, and more coherent system of reforms to better deter and detect drug and alcohol-impaired driving. Among other things, the law now authorizes the Attorney General of Canada to approve drug screening equipment by Ministerial Order.
- Oral fluid drug screening equipment is an additional tool available to law enforcement to detect the presence of certain drugs in drivers.
- On July 19, 2018, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General published a notice in Part I of the Canada Gazette of her intention to approve this drug screening equipment for use under the Criminal Code. The Notice was followed by a 30-day public comment period, which ended on August 18, 2018.
- Information provided to Public Safety Canada by drug screening equipment manufacturers in response to a Request for Information earlier this year indicates manufacturers anticipate they will be able to meet demand within 4-6 weeks.
- Police can demand an oral fluid sample if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver has drugs in their body. A positive result on drug screening equipment could lead to the further investigative step of demanding a blood sample for laboratory analysis or an evaluation by a Drug Recognition and Evaluation expert (DRE).
- Training for law enforcement on the oral fluid drug screening equipment will be developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the coming weeks.
- A positive result on drug screening equipment could lead to the further investigative step of demanding a blood sample for laboratory analysis, but it is not a prerequisite. It can be used in addition to Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation (DRE).
- Canada Gazette Notice to approve an oral fluid drug screener
- Cannabis impairment
- Impaired driving laws
- What you need to know about cannabis
- Cannabis Act
By Marijuana.Ca Staff