Ottawa Expecting ‘Dramatic’ Surge in Pot Tests for Drivers but Shrinking Labs May Not be Able to Meet Demand

Article by Tom Blackwell, National Post

The federal government is expecting a deluge of police requests for marijuana tests once cannabis is legalized and is concerned about whether Canada’s shrinking number of forensic labs will be able to handle the surge.

Legalization of the drug is likely to “increase dramatically” the demand for pot analysis of urine and blood samples from suspected impaired drivers, says a tender issued recently by Public Safety Canada.

One outside expert says it’s unclear if they can meet that demand, given the RCMP has shut down three of its six forensic testing centres since 2014.

The request for proposals (RFP) asks for contractors to study the capacity of Canada’s lab system and the potential for a “backlog of samples,” then advise on a new framework for analyzing bodily fluid samples.

“It should be expected that the number of samples requiring lab analysis will increase dramatically once cannabis is legalized, simply because the police will be reacting to the new regime with a similar approach as they do for driving under the influence of alcohol,” says the RFP. “Roadside checks and random screening of drivers for drugs will likely occur more often.”

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