Ontario’s premier is criticizing the federal government over cannabis a day before recreational pot becomes legal, saying police aren’t equipped to reliably screen for drug-impaired driving.
Doug Ford said Health Canada has only approved one device to conduct roadside tests for cannabis and it may not give accurate results in the cold.
In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ford said the federal government must give officers the tools they need to identify drug-impaired drivers.
During a separate speech to the Ontario Provincial Police Association, Ford went further, saying the federal Liberals passed a law to legalize recreational cannabis and left the provinces to clean up “the mess.”
“It was three years ago Justin Trudeau campaigned on legalizing cannabis. Three years later, the federal government still cannot give our police a single reliable piece of equipment to test for drug-impaired driving,” the premier said in his speech on Tuesday.
“This is deeply concerning. And make no mistake, by rushing legal cannabis out of the door before ensuring police have the tools they need, the Trudeau Liberals are putting people at risk.”
Trudeau, meanwhile, said legalization was necessary to protecting communities.
“The current situation, the current prohibition on marijuana has not worked to protect our kids and to keep profits out of the pockets of organized crime,” he said.
“By controlling it, by legalizing it, we’re going to make it more difficult for young people to access and we’re going to ensure that criminal organizations and street gangs don’t make millions, billions of dollars of profit every year.”
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has defended the approval of the Drager DrugTest 5000 roadside device that tests saliva for the presence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The Canadian Society of Forensic Science examined the machine and the public had an opportunity to give feedback, she said.
She has also noted that it’s not the only tool available to law enforcement officers — they can also use standard field sobriety tests — and has said additional testing devices could be approved in the future.
Meanwhile, the head of the country’s police chiefs has said forces across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization.
Vancouver Chief Const. Adam Palmer, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said Monday that officers have been policing drug-impaired drivers and illicit grow-ops for years.
He said there are 13,000 officers trained in standard field sobriety testing in Canada and that number is expected to rise to 20,000 in the next several years. In addition, there are 833 certified drug recognition experts and 500 more are expected to be trained in the coming years.
“I’m here to tell Canadians that the police are ready,” he said.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press