Canadian CANNAINVESTOR Magazine November 2017 - Page 222

222

The utmost goal of this pilot project is “to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and enforce the proposed cannabis legalization and regulation”. Part of this, is getting the proper tools in place for officers to properly conclude impairment. Breathalyzers are a big part of conquering that challenge. Getting officers to get comfortable with using them, and exposing them to the elements (rain, cold, wind, etc). And most importantly, to ensure validity of test results above all else.

There has been considerable challenges to the use of saliva for scientific and physiological reasons. Over the Christmas holidays, the Winnipeg police department implemented the Check Stop Program as part of this pilot study, which saw 56 individuals charged with alcohol related offences but only one drug related. Officers were trained to detect if

someone is high on drug, but all subjective testing. Hence the challenge in achieving any sort of conviction. Officer’s opinion on impairment just doesn’t cut it.

As Scott Newman, a spokesperson for the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association of Manitoba said, “The saliva test doesn't really tell you a lot because the effects of marijuana can stay in the system of anyone up to 30 days”. Saliva tests give police the power to demand a saliva sample which could lead to further testing, such as a blood test, in an effort to assess whether a person is high. Zack Elias, an Edmonton criminal lawyer, also expressed concern over testing with saliva, stating:

“The scientific basis for determining impairment by drugs as opposed to their mere presence in someone’s body is not as clear as the basis for establishing impairment by alcohol. If we’re going to be instituting some type of scientific measure, there should be some consensus before we put that into place… otherwise you’re going to be convicting people who have smoked marijuana the day before, a week before, you don’t know”.