With legalization set to be introduced next year, the government is already anticipating how to deal with the issue of impaired driving. Roadside tests for detecting drivers who have used cannabis are being developed currently and law enforcement will certainly be using them once the technology is considered viable.
The federal government says that for now the next step is to launch a task force to advise on how best to implement legalization. On the issue of impaired driving, Doug Beirness, senior researcher with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, says that “We know that if you go into a laboratory and look at basic driving skills, there is evidence that the more you smoke, the more affected your performance is. We see it affects the speed at which you travel while weaving on the road.”
Although law enforcement wants the proper tools to deal with impaired driving, the science behind how much cannabis can impair a driver is still not totally clear. Engineering professor Mina Hoorfar is working on technology that could help provide some clarity on this issue. According to Horrfar, “There are people using medicinal marijuana and may be fine to drive so we want to find the threshold for impairment.” The small device she has developed attempts to detect the presence of cannabis as well as measure how much has been used.
The specifics of how impaired driving laws will change once legalization is in place is still very much up in the air. Many in the cannabis activism community disagree with the notion that cannabis impairs a driver’s ability. A recent study by State Farm showed that one in four Canadians feels the same way. The issue of driving after cannabis use is far from settled and we will be closely following the situation as it unfolds.