Washington state police chief says legalized marijuana provides challenges

Justin Trudeau’s win in Monday’s federal election could lead to the eventual legalization of marijuana in Canada.

Washington state legalized recreational cannabis use for adults in 2012, and some state officials say delivering on Trudeau’s promise could prove to have its challenges.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, who was in Victoria Tuesday for the annual Pacific Region Cross-Border Law Enforcement Forum.

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Batiste admits that since legalizing the drug, Washington state has seen an increase in people driving under the influence of marijuana.

“We are addressing that through a variety of ways in terms of information sharing and teaching our troopers…how to better detect and deal with that situation,” he said.

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Washington state has a law on the books limiting the levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to no more than five nanograms per millilitre of blood, a level comparable to the alcohol content of .08.

READ MORE: 4 promises Justin Trudeau made to B.C. voters before election day

But finding a way to enforce the law is still a work in progress.

“What we’re trying to do is to discover a way to…do roadside detections as we do with alcohol,” said Batiste.

A B.C. company may have the answer. Cannabix Technologies has developed a marijuana breathalyzer. It uses breath testing to detect the recent consumption of THC, providing instant results.

While the device doesn’t quantify the amount of THC in the driver’s system, it would give law enforcement a point of reference, something that could be used if and when Trudeau’s promise is fulfilled.

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