A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says Canada needs to improve the way cannabis impairment is detected among drivers.
The Montreal study which looked to see if there’s a correlation between pot legalization and an increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents had to look at the U.S. due to the lack of data in Canada. Recreational cannabis has only been legal in Canada since Oct. 17, 2018.
OPP Sgt. Dave Wallbank, the provincial coordinator of the DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) Program, said police are satisfied working with the detection tools they’ve currently got in Ontario.
“In Canada, and other countries around the world, the DRE program, and the SFST (Standardized Field Sobriety Test) program, they are the primary tools used by law enforcement to detecting impaired driving with motorists on the road,” said Wallbank.
“And both of those programs are about impairment. They’re not about is somebody impaired at the side of the road. They’re not about levels per se or the amount of cannabis or THC that might be in somebody’s blood. They’re focused on a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle,” he added.
“And the way the legislation has been working in Canada that’s how we feel the best approach (is) to combat impaired driving.”
The study found in states with laws permitting the recreational consumption of cannabis, there may be a small yet significant increase in motor vehicle collisions and fatalities. Researchers extrapolated the data to determine that 308 additional driving fatalities could occur in this country each year but admitted whether that will actually play out is another question.