Roadside testing for cannabis is still a “riddle wrapped in mystery”


Since the legalization of medical cannabis in Canada, there’s been a lot of experimenting in the technology sector. New smoking utensils such as vaporizers and vape pens have been on the rise ever since.

However, one aspect of the industry has proven to be extremely difficult for the technology sector to master – cannabis testing.

Weed testing for the tech community seems to be what Russia was for Winston Churchill – “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”, because legislators and innovators can’t find a solution for an accurate roadside THC test.

Driving under the influence of cannabis has been a hotly debated topic in the Canadian Senate during the three reading sessions. The federal government hasn’t yet found a way to test drivers for exact THC levels and acute cannabis consumption during a roadside stop.

The issue of testing for cannabis in the drivers’ system has significantly grown in the last month or so, as the police have been cracking down on drivers speeding in the areas in and around Vancouver.

Accuracy issues

According to several sources, the federally-approved Drager 5000 DrugTest roadside testing devices are fairly susceptible to mistakes.

According to Kyla Lee from Acumen Law, the Drager 5000 devices are only able to detect the presence of drugs rather than acute impairment, similarly to a urine test that would also confirm the existence of THC in your organism.

“We had several individuals eat poppy seed loaf from Tim Hortons and poppy seed cake they made at home. All of those people tested positive in the saliva test for opiates, and later tested positive in subsequent urine tests,” Lee said.

Other people reported that even drinking liquids made from the same material that certain drugs are made from can cause you to fail the test.

For example, drinking tea made from coca leaves can cause the Drager 5000 device to falsely report a positive result for cocaine intoxication, which would lead to a criminal offense.

Even though the federal government created the Drug Recognition Expert position, and financed millions from the federal budget to put an end to high-driving, the issue doesn’t seem to be easily solvable.

According to the federal budget, over $80 million CAD has been set aside for provinces and territories to support road safety and other related issues.

Meanwhile, the federal government is considering another additional testing tool, called Abbott SoToxa, that would help the police determine if the driver is indeed under the influence, or has consumed a while ago.

The public now has a 30-day review window to state their opinions in regard to the tool, after which the government intends to allow the police to use the device.


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