OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Give it a chance, that’s what the federal NDP’s Justice critic is saying after learning a number of police forces are reluctant to use a federally-approved roadside test for marijuana once it becomes legal Oct. 17.
Victoria MP Murray Rankin says he understands why the RCMP, Vancouver Police, and Delta Police have reservations about using the Drager DrugTest 5000, but adds the technology is evolving.
“I’d hate to think that we didn’t have any kind of oral fluid screening devices to go along with the normal field sobriety tests for impairment,” Rankin says. “The drug recognition experts have been hired to also see if we can ensure that our streets are safe.”
He says standardized sobriety tests and the so-called drug recognition experts will play a key role when it comes to enforcement.
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Critics, including Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer, have called it cumbersome and difficult to use in cold weather, but Rankin says the federally-approved test was approved after a pretty rigorous application process and review.
“Let’s give them a chance,” Rankin adds. “The courts will tell us, just like they reviewed breathalyzers in the past and we’ll see whether or not they are up to snuff. If they’re not, then new ones will come along.”
The devices are made to deter people and make sure they fear these kinds of devices, Rankin notes.
“If they don’t work, if there are constitutional challenges that are upheld, then, of course, they will no longer be in use.”
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Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Bill Blair, the minister responsible for Organized Crime Reduction, have issued statements defending the Drager DrugTest 5000, saying they plan to continue testing it for accuracy.
Blair also says Canada has more than 13,000 police officers trained to conduct Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST), as well as 825 Drug Recognition Experts.
A Vancouver lawyer and her firm have openly criticized the test, calling it “invasive” and questioning its reliability. According to the firm Acumen Law, tests commissioned by them showed the Drager DrugTest 5000 had false positives as high as 12 per cent.