Marijuana will officially be legal across the country tomorrow, but Calgary police are warning that getting behind the wheel while stoned is still illegal.
Const. Dan Kurz, one of the CPS drug recognition experts, says that they are expecting a significant increase in collisions, due to stoned drivers being less likely to react quickly to braking, stopping, and turning.
“Our judgement goes out the window, and that’s a scary thing.”
Const. Dan Kurz, CPS Drug Recognition Expert
He says research from the U.S. after a number of states legalized showed that speeding was the number one reason for traffic stops involving high drivers. “It’s too much of a gamble,” says Kurz, “our judgement goes out the window and that’s a scary thing.” The second most common offence was reckless driving, where drivers were weaving in and out of traffic lanes.
CPS have attempted to prepare for pot legalization by adding the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing to its training. The three-day course is intended to help officers better detect drivers that are drug-impaired at traffic stops. Their on-scene impairment tests include three basic sobriety tests. If the officer suspects that a driver is stoned they can take them to a police station for further evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert. Evaluations by D.R.E. officers could be up to 12 steps long, including a physical exam and taking a toxicology sample.
Concerns that police still face ahead of legalization include:
- Not all officers are trained to carry out Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
- No screening device to detect cannabis consumption
- No evidence that shows a specific level of THC leads to impairment
Calgary police currently have 31 Drug Recognition Experts, as well as 287 officers who have been trained in the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing program.
— Danica Ferris (@danicaferris) October 16, 2018