Marijuana impairment testing remains hazy: B.C.

Provinces, including B.C., are working through the kinks around marijuana legalization

British Columbia has unveiled its plan for regulating recreational marijuana, but the enforcement and testing for drug-impaired driving remain hazy.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the provinces need to hear “ASAP” from the federal government about what technology might be approved in testing for drug-impairment, while an expert says existing testing techniques are as good as it gets, even if they aren’t perfect.

Currently, specially trained drug recognition officers conduct field sobriety tests based largely on visual assessments, rather than testing of bodily fluids.

“Right now, there are laws in place to deal with impairment, whether it’s drug impairment or alcohol impairment,” Farnworth said Thursday. “So those laws are still there, those laws apply today and they will apply tomorrow.”

He said British Columbia is still waiting to see whether technology will be approved through federal legislation on marijuana legalization, and what that technology might look like.

“The feds have told us there is technology they are confident in, but we still have yet to hear exactly what it is.”

WATCH: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

READ MORE: B.C. legislates recreational marijuana sales

Former police officer Steven Maxwell, who has trained drug-recognition officers in Ontario and Quebec, says he believes those tests are very accurate, when conducted properly.

There are three roadside tests, which are the same for identifying both alcohol and drug impairment, he said Friday.

If an officer reasonably suspects a driver is impaired, the driver will be taken back to a police station for further testing that might include blood pressure, pulse rate and pupil reaction testing.

“The drug influence evaluation is very, very reliable, when the tests are conducted properly. This is where sometimes we run into problems because people tend to cut corners or they don’t do the tests according to their training,” he said.

Maxwell said he believes drug recognition officers will be more effective than any technology in detecting impairment.

He gave the example of a driver who is pulled over with an open can of beer next to him. Alcohol may be strong on his breath, but after only half a beer, he’s not impaired, Maxwell said.

Even if a saliva test is introduced, Maxwell said he believes drug recognition officers will continue to play a strong role.

The federal legislation, which proposes driving limits for drugs and new roadside testing devices, is under review by a parliamentary senate committee.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

South Surrey parking ticket perplexes, frustrates

Theresa Delaney predicts more people will be wrongly ticketed

OUR VIEW: Let’s find Surrey pellet-gun punks

Those who do have information – if they are also possessed of a conscience – must contact police

Coldest Night an event for warm hearts

Sources’ White Rock event one of 130 walkathons across Canada on Feb. 23

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Most Read