Pubdate: Tue, 02 Jan 2018
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 Metro Canada
Author: Kevin Maimann
Page: 1


Edmonton police brace for cannabis legalization

Edmonton police will not be ready to enforce cannabis-impaired driving
laws in time for legalization, according to chief Rod Knecht.

In a year-end interview with Metro, Knecht said he expects to see an
uptick in impaired driving in 2018 - but without tools to accurately
test for pot the way Breathalyzers test for alcohol, he doesn't know
how officers will deal with it.

"We are, quite frankly, not the least bit prepared for it," he

"It's going to make the life of the front-line police officer more
challenging and more difficult, quite frankly, and I think it's going
to plug up the criminal justice system.

"I don't think there's a police chief in this country that would say
we're ready to go by July 1."

July 1 is the date Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially set for the
legalization of cannabis for recreational use, though he has recently
hinted the date could be pushed back.

To prepare for legalization, Public Safety Canada has been testing
roadside oral fluid tests, which purport to detect the presence of
marijuana or another drug.

Dr. Louis Francescutti, an Edmonton emergency-room physician and
professor in the University of Alberta's school of public health, said
those tests have been inconclusive so far.

Additionally, recent studies show a person can register THC in their
bloodstream from second-hand smoke, which could complicate the results
of a screening. The federal government has proposed measuring the
amount of THC in a driver's bloodstream to determine impairment after
it's detected through the oral test, but Francescutti said that won't
hold up in court because the level of THC in a person's blood does not
directly correlate with impairment.

"It's a real frickin' nightmare," he said.

Francescutti noted it's a problem police are already dealing with, but
he also expects it to worsen with legalization.

"Unless something miraculously happens within the next couple of
months, there's no way they're going to be ready in July."

Edmonton police said at the time that 40 to 50 per cent of impaired
fatalities have a link to drugs, with many being a mixture of drugs
and alcohol.
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