Pubdate: Thu, 12 May 2016
Source: Metro (Toronto, CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Luke Simcoe
Page: 9


Concern About Pending Legal Status of Pot

A report that shows drug-impaired driving is on the rise in Toronto 
has some safety advocates concerned about the impending legalization 
of marijuana.

"We've had a horrific problem with deaths and injuries on the road 
because of alcohol and the last thing you want to do is promote more 
people on the road being impaired," said Toronto lawyer Patrick Brown.

Brown worries the federal government will legalize marijuana before 
technology is available to test for impairment at the roadside.

"Before there's legalization of any drug, the government must ensure 
they have the proper procedures to test, whether it's through saliva 
or something else, whether people are impaired," he said.

Toronto police data shows 25 drivers have been charged with impaired 
driving due to drug use in 2016, a 150 per cent increase over this 
time last year.

Although there's no breathalyzer Const. Clint Stibbe equivalent for 
detecting narcotics or prescription drugs, Const. Clint Stibbe said 
officers are trained to spot and assess impairment.

"Impairment is impairment," he said. "The person is falling down, 
slurring their words or their co-ordination is gone."

In those cases, officers can take drivers to a police station for 
examination by someone specialized in assessing drug use. They can 
also order a urine sample to quantify how impaired a driver was at 
the time, Stibbe said.

"The system isn't broken by any means," he said. "We're aware 
impaired driving by drug use is occurring, we are watching and we'll get you."

Stibbe said the government is looking at devices for roadside drug 
screening and he's confident marijuana won't be made legal until 
those tools are in the hands of police officers.

Bill Blair, Toronto's former police chief turned Liberal MP, has been 
tasked with overseeing the legalization of marijuana. His office did 
not respond to Metro's request for comment on the issue.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom