Roadside Marijuana Testing Difficult: Police

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, Aug 4, 2003.


    by Erika Tustin,


    Local News - Police are concerned it will be difficult to prove motorists were driving under the influence of marijuana should it be decriminalized.

    "How are we going to evaluate whether the person has THC in their system?" said city police Sgt. Rob Hotston. "I am not aware of any scientifically approved test for evaluating THC in a person's system other than drawing blood. We can't do blood tests on the side of the road."

    Both city police and Peterborough County OPP said without a reliable roadside test it's also difficult to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana or lack of sleep, he said.

    Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical in marijuana that produces psychoactive, mind-altering, reactions to the drug.

    According to the Canada Safety Council ( CSC ), drivers under the influence of THC can have impaired psychomotor skills and shorter attention spans, making it more difficult to drive accurately and steer. Under the Criminal Code, drivers can be charged with impaired driving for using both alcohol and drugs.

    The CSC recently released a report urging the provincial and federal governments to consider new legislation for impaired laws, zero-tolerance and 12-hour driver licence suspensions should small amounts of marijuana be decriminalized.

    Hotston said an officer can apply for a blood warrant when a person is unable to provide a breath sample at the scene - such as in an accident - and if alcohol is suspected.

    If drugs are detected, the evidence is admissible but officers cannot lay an impaired drug charge on scent alone, he said.

    "The courts have held that the odour of marijuana is insufficient," Hotston said. "Coupled with other things it could be grounds for a search but the sure fire way is through a blood test. I imagine that would pose a number of constitutional issues."

    Director of the OPP's drug enforcement unit, Det. Supt. Jim Hutchison, said the decriminalization of marijuana and its possible spinoff effect on impaired driving has been an ongoing policing concern.

    Hutchison said three OPP officers from Toronto recently joined 17 officers from across Ontario in the Drug Recognition Expert ( DRE ) program.

    The DRE program in Vancouver, B.C., trained and certified officers to recognize the physical signs associated with different kinds of drugs, Hutchison said.

    But the training is costly and officers need to recertify every year.

    Hutchison said there is currently no plan to offer the program again.

    MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
    Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2003
    Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
    Copyright: 2003 Osprey Media Group Inc.
    Author: Erika Tustin
    Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
    Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
  2. Boo Hoo! (shameless crocodile tears streaming down my face) Tha Man can't tell if we're stoned or not...what a shame!

    Don't fret, they'll find a convenient way to test for THC on the scene soon enough. They did it for booze, they'll do it for pot.

  3. true true, unfortunately very true....soon enough:(:(
  4. how about only arresting people for driving while impaired when they are caught driving while IMPAIRED. If you pass a field sobriety/reflex test (u know touch your nose etc.) then you can get back in your car and drive away. What a novel idea.

  5. Makes sense...lots of cops probably still do use it....however, if you don't pass the motor skills test, they'll want to have some proof of how impaired you are...something they can take to court...that's where portable testing comes in & that's why they carry breathalizers to test for alcohol.

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