Simple Roadside Tests Can Identify Pot-Impaired Drivers, Study Shows

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Officers north of Toronto run an impaired-driving checkpoint in this file image.

Four roadside tests that could be used by non-specialist police officers caught over 95 per cent of drivers stoned on marijuana, a U.S. study has found.

Screening suspected drunk drivers is a straightforward process involving a breath test. But testing stoned drivers — in a way that will stand up in court — involves a cumbersome 12-step procedure that has to be done by a specially qualified drug recognition examiner or DRE.

“There are very few trained officers, and it’s very expensive — it’s about $18,000 to train an officer,” says Andrew Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “Unfortunately what happens with the ones that get trained is that after a couple of years they get promoted, they change jobs, and we don’t have a steady stream.”

When recreational marijuana becomes legal, it seems likely that more people will toke and drive.

And even before legalization, rates have been rising. In 2015, twice as many Ontario residents reported driving after using cannabis as did in 2010, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

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