Canada's Justice Department has approved roadside swab tests as a new method to crack down on smoking and driving. The test would be the first of its kind in Canada, used by police officers to instantly check saliva for traces of THC - the psychoactive component in marijuana.
The approval is part of Canada's major overhaul to impaired driving laws, Bill C-46, which passed last month. In addition to roadside saliva tests, police can also demand breathalyzer tests from any driver without having to suspect impairment.
The saliva testing device is able to immediately detect traces of cocaine and THC use within the last six hours. Once the final model for the device is created, police officers can swab a driver's mouth and get results in real time.
The device will be a much more accurate and reliable upgrade to the current field sobriety test used by police officers, in which drivers are asked to walk in a straight line or stand on one foot.
As for the device itself, the federal government is considering the Draeger DrugTest 5000, a German-made mobile drug screening system that uses oral fluid to detect seven types of commonly abused drugs, such as THC and cocaine. The device is described as non-invasive, and is already approved for use in the United Kingdom and Germany.
However, the device may need to be modified to withstand Canada's harsh winter climate. According to the Ottawa Citizen, tests of the device in the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan concluded that "there were some temperature-related issues that arose when the devices were used in extremely cold temperatures.”
The federal government is reportedly investing $81 million over a five-year period to buy screening devices and provide officers with more comprehensive training on drug-impaired driving.
Canada's advanced impaired driving laws are slated to be in full effect by the time recreational marijuana becomes legalized across the country in October.
Source: Ottawa Citizen