Detecting Drug Impaired Driving
Detecting and successfully prosecuting drug impaired drivers on B.C.'s highways is not a simple task. Currently the Criminal Code provisions for Drug Recognition Expert examination is the only method used to qualify drug induced impairment where the driver is not obviously incapable of physical control. One day in the not too distant future, the Cannabix marihuana breathalyzer may allow police to deal with the problem though a roadside breath test just as they would an alcohol impaired driver.
A breath testing tool to detect THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, will have to undergo scientific testing to insure that it accurately measures the concentration on the driver's breath and relates it to the level in their blood. Once that has been determined the laws will need to be changed to indicate the maximum allowable THC level that the driver can have. Finally, the whole scheme will have to survive the challenge of our legal system.
We have not followed the current practices of countries like Britain and Australia. Britain has recently set blood concentration limits of a number of prescription and illegal drugs and enforces them by blood testing. Australia has done the same but uses saliva testing instead. A breath test based system, at least for THC, may be more palatable if it is successful as it is not as invasive a test as the other two are.
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, drug impaired driving almost equaled alcohol impaired driving instances in fatal collisions during 2010. The Centre also reports that young people continue to be the largest group of drivers who die in crashes and test positive for alcohol or drugs. A system to effectively deter drug impaired driving is needed and the Cannabix device may be a made in B.C. component of the solution.