Roadside Marijuana Test Approved By Canadian Government
Roadside marijuana testing has long been a concern with legalization creeping across the horizon. Many advocates of cannabis saw logical inconsistencies on the legislative side which promised to be a disaster. As a move of political expediency, the Trudeau Government planned to punish driving under the influence of marijuana, significantly more harshly than driving under the influence of alcohol.
Law enforcement itself was in a panic. Many officers took the stance that not only did adequate roadside testing methods not exist but that officers lacked proper training in administering said drug tests and recognizing the signs of cannabis intoxication. Many Canadians saw the irony as even prior to legalization, cannabis is one of the most widely consumed substances in Canada. Police have already been dealing with those who ill-advisedly pair weed with driving for years.
Today, the latest development in the impaired driving saga comes to fruition. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has approved the use of saliva screening equipment by law enforcement officers for marijuana.
Thankfully, new screening methods such as roadside marijuana testing were subject to the scrutiny of law. Justice Minister Raybould was required to determine whether or not this new THC saliva test violated any existing Canadian laws. These devices got the legislative green light, however, a number of significant issues still remain.
Different Devices in Use Across Canada
The lack of standardization of police equipment poses a major threat in this instance. Local police forces will be allowed to decide for themselves what testing equipment they want to use. This is problematic because testing devices for THC vary greatly in quality.
For instance, one roadside marijuana test devised by hound labs can only detect THC use within 2 hours of use. The Drager Drug Test 5000, on the other hand, is capable of detecting THC within 6 hours of use as well as a variety of other substances including cocaine and amphetamines.
Some police forces might elect to purchase cheaper, less effective devices as a result of budgetary concerns. This will undoubtedly lead to a discrepancy in the enforcement of the law. As a result, many severely impaired drivers might slip through the net.
Would a Roadside Marijuana Test Even Be Effective?
For many, finding a method for screening high drivers might seem like a huge victory for law enforcement. However, there is a dirty secret behind the Canadian government’s approval of these roadside saliva tests… They’re completely ineffective at determining sobriety.
In short, saliva tests can only determine levels of THC in one’s blood. THC however, is fat-soluble, unlike alcohol which is soluble water-soluble. Thus, the two drugs behave completely differently. THC levels in one’s blood, therefore, has nothing to do with whether they are sober or not. For an in-depth look on the topic, check out this article.
As legalization on October 17 approaches, Canadians should be cautious. While the end of prohibition against marijuana is undoubtedly a great thing, it is not a black and white issue. The legislative side of marijuana is riddled with ill-conceived policies due to ignorance and lazy political expediencies.
The fight for cannabis rights does not end after legalization and Canadians should be uncompromising when it comes to a piece of legislation 100 years in the making.
By: Stefan Hosko