What, exactly, does it mean to be one toke over the line?
That’s one of many questions that will have to be answered as Canada moves towards legalizing marijuana and police wonder if they’re equipped to crack down on stoned drivers.
“We’re having our challenges. The most pressing one is that we don’t know what the legislation will look like. It makes it hard to train and prepare,” said Supt. Gord Jones of the Toronto Police, the co-chair of the Canadian Chiefs of Police traffic committee.
We talk to experts about what is known and what is unknown about cannabis-impaired driving — and why detecting and charging drivers under the influence of marijuana will be more complicated than nabbing drunk drivers.
Q: How does roadside drug testing work now?
A: Under legislation introduced in 2008 to update impaired driving laws, drivers suspected of drug use have been required to participate in a drug evaluation conducted by a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE.
These police officers, trained to an international standard, rely on their observations to determine whether a blood or urine test is warranted.
The problem is that there are fewer than 600 trained DRE officers in Canada. An assessment conducted in 2009 estimated that Canada needs between 1,800 and 2,000 and the training system isn’t equipped to pump out trained officers any faster.