Adult recreational marijuana use is about to become fully legal across Canada due to the passage of the Cannabis Act, and both local government agencies and private businesses are gearing up for major changes.
Workplaces are currently scrambling to come up with new impairment policies, while universities have been updating their smoking rules to reflect marijuana usage for adults. Meanwhile, cities like Calgary are still in the process of debating public usage spaces and licensing private lounges for marijuana consumption.
Perhaps the biggest change will come from law enforcement, however, as driving under the influence remains illegal even after Cannabis Act takes effect. Police officers who suspect a driver is impaired by marijuana can perform a field sobriety test, although marijuana will provide unique challenges as it can’t be measured in the same way as alcohol.
Police departments are developing methods of testing for drug-impaired drivers and providing additional training for their officers, but there’s still a large gap in knowledge and equipment ahead of legalization’s rapid approach.
Regina police chief Evan Bray recently discussed these training challenges, as well as new equipment to be utilized for testing impaired drivers, according to a report from Global News.
Bray stated: “There’s been lots of speculation around what’s the cost of this going to be on policing. We don’t know the answer to that. I can tell you we have some significant training that we’ve done and will continue to do.”
The Global News story reports that the Regina Police Service has ordered a Drager DrugTest 5000 as their primary roadside screening device, although how it will be deployed has not yet been decided.
“There’s benefits that come with using the instrument and there’s some challenges that have yet to be worked out yet,” Bray said. “One of the biggest ones, and we’ve talked a bit about this already, is temperature. The machine is very temperature sensitive and we live in Saskatchewan. So that’s going to be something over the winter months that we’re vigilant to.”
Recreational adult cannabis usage officially becomes legal nationwide on Oct. 17, although initial storefront locations in full compliance with the Cannabis Act will initially be sparse.