Canadian police forces have given 833 officers specialized drug recognition training, as of Oct. 1, as they prepare to enforce impaired driving laws when the country legalizes recreational marijuana later this month.
Government officials briefed journalists Friday on preparations to crack down on impaired driving once the legal pot market kicks in. Police can begin using “oral fluid roadside drug screeners” as of Dec. 18, according to a government briefing document, which would detect cannabis that’s recently consumed.
The first screening device was approved in August, and is not yet in use in other countries, said the officials, who gave the briefing on condition of anonymity. The screening devices are being described as an additional “tool” for police but aren’t required to investigate drug-impaired driving, according to the briefing document.
Drug-impaired driving has long been illegal in Canada, but police forces are stepping up efforts ahead of the opening of the legal market. There are three new criminal offenses in Canada — one a summary conviction, and more serious ones for higher levels of certain active agents, or for combining drugs and alcohol. Police can now demand a blood sample to be charged, though it’s unclear yet whether that will be done at a hospital, by an ambulance or elsewhere, the officials said.