Two B.C. police departments say they won’t roll out a federally-approved roadside marijuana test to use when the drug becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.
Both the Vancouver and Delta police agencies won’t be using the Drager DrugTest 5000.
“We will be obtaining a Drager DrugTest 5000 so we can familiarize ourselves with the technology, but we do not have immediate plans to utilize the device operationally,” Vancouver Sgt. Jason Robillard said in an email to Black Press Media.
“The VPD will continue to detect drug impaired drivers through officers trained in standardized field sobriety tests and qualified drug recognition experts.”
Delta Police public affairs coordinator Cris Leykauf said that the force will not be using the roadside saliva test in 2018, and has no plans yet for 2019.
Instead, officers will continue to use the “standard field sobriety tests” at the roadside.
“This the mechanism Delta Police uses right now to initially determine if a driver is impaired by drugs,” said Leykauf in an email.
“By the end of the year we expect to have 50 per cent of our operational officers trained.”
According to Leykauf, not passing the roadside test will result in a 24-hour prohibition a possibility of further investigation, including “a drug influence evaluation and potential criminal charges.”
That level of further investigation is done at the police station, Leykauf said.
According to the manufacturer, the Dräger DrugTest 5000 allows police to tests for marijuana, meth, opioids, cocaine and methadone at the side of the road by getting a saliva sample.
The federal attorney general approved it in late August, after a four-month pilot project and a federally commissioned report found that proper training and standard operating procedures make saliva tests a “useful additional tool” to help detect high drivers.
Critics have raised concerns, however, that tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana, can stay in blood and saliva for much longer than the effects of the chemical last.
Once marijuana is legal, drivers with between two and five nanograms per millimetre of THC in their blood could be fined $1,000.
Those with five or more nanograms per millimetre face a minimum fine of $1,000, and up to five years behind bars for repeated offences.