Canada’s Sole Cannabis Impairment Test May Not Work as Hoped – LPC
“In an ideal world, we would have the equivalent of the breathalyzer,” said Eric Dumschat, legal director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD). “But alcohol is a very simple molecule compared with THC.”
The Drager DrugTest 5000 is the only roadside test approved for cannabis impairment since cannabis was legalized in Canada. It detects concentrations of THC, the mind-altering compound in cannabis. However, unlike with a breathalyzer, it can’t indicate impairment.
“Our device is there to really just identify whether there’s a presence of THC,” said Einat Velichover, a business development manager at Drager. “It’s not meant to measure impairment and we never claimed that it does.”
Yet Michelle Gray from a Sackville, Nova Scotia had her driver’s licence suspended on the basis of that test. Gray has been using medical marijuana for almost eight years to treat multiple sclerosis. She plans to launch a constitutional challenge to the law – and roadside cannabis impairment test itself.
“(The Drager DrugTest 5000) should not be on the streets and used for testing cannabis impairment,” Gray said.
Police Departments Also Questioning Effectiveness of Roadside Tests – LPC
Several police departments across Canada seem to share Gray’s belief.
“For the most part, in British Columbia, police departments have not deployed it,” said Chief Const. Mike Serr of the Abbotsford Police Department. “Several departments have a Drager 5000 that we can use and test but we’re all a little bit wary.”
Instead, standardized field sobriety testing is considered to be a more accurate measure. All members of the Abbotsford Police Department traffic unit are drug recognition experts.
Obviously, cannabis impairment is a serious issue. A vote against the drug test itself is not a vote against keeping the streets safe. Tools like Cannsell in Ontario that train retail workers and the Licensed Producer system itself all help increase safety. But in terms of a roadside test, Canada has an opportunity to find new ways of measuring cannabis impairment.
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