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Canadian police under-prepared to deal with drug-impaired drivers: chiefs

A woman waves a flag with a marijuana leaf on it next to a group gathered to celebrate National Marijuana Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada on April 20, 2016. Canada will take steps next year to legalize marijuana, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced. Philpott offered several reasons for ending the ban on pot, including the view that laws in Canada and abroad criminalizing marijuana use have been both overly-harsh and ineffective. / AFP / Chris Roussakis (Photo credit should read CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/AFP/Getty Images). CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/AFP/Getty Images

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says it is unlikely it will reach its goal of having 2,000 officers trained to detect drug-impaired drivers when marijuana becomes legal later this year.

Last fall, the agency representing about 90 per cent of police agencies in Canada warned the government before pot becomes legal they need more time to train officers in the new legalization laws as well as to recognized drug-impaired drivers in a roadside stop.

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A spokesperson for the chiefs of police tells The Canadian Press only 733 officers had completed the specialized training as of May, up from 665 in February.

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Natalie Wright says there is little chance of hitting 2,000 trained officers when recreational pot becomes legal on October 17 but that training will continue and the police are confident in their process.

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The International Drug Evaluation and Classification began in Los Angeles in the 1970s and Canadian officers must still travel to the United States for the training, which includes looking at things such as vital signs, eyes, balance and co-ordination for signs of impairment.

The federal government is spending $81 million over the next five years to aid in officer training, and also launched a “Don’t Drive High” public awareness campaign to warn Canadians about the perils of getting behind the wheel after using marijuana.q

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