Cannabis IQ: Police chiefs doubt roadside testing device, new rules in Ontario and more

Peterborough police say impaired driving remains a key concern as the countdown to legalization continues. File

Here’s what we learned this week:

The federal government approved a cannabis testing device for drivers, the Drager DrugTest 5000, in August.

But the country’s police forces are unconvinced. Earlier this month, Ottawa’s police chief said his force wouldn’t be buying the gadgets, saying the devices gave to false positives, false negatives and are unreliable in the cold.

This week, three Western police chiefs weighed in.

“The machine is very temperature-sensitive, and we live in Saskatchewan,” pointed out Regina’s Evan Bray. Regina’s police have ordered one device, and are hoping better-quality methods come along. 

Vancouver police aren’t going to use it at all. “Our experts have looked at it, and it doesn’t meet our requirements, so we’re going to pass on this one,” said police chief Adam Palmer.

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And Edmonton‘s police have “very few” of the gadgets, which Rod Knecht called “bulky and difficult to use.”

“We know every time we use it, we’re going to get a not guilty plea,” he said. “That’s going to plug up the court system.”

WATCH: Critics claim roadside marijuana testing flawed
Click to play video: 'Critics claim roadside marijuana testing flawed'
Critics claim roadside marijuana testing flawed

In brief:

  • Many provinces don’t allow young drivers to have any trace of cannabis. Zero-tolerance restrictions sound sensible — but THC can stay in the system for weeks after use. One lawyer tells us why she thinks the restrictions won’t stand up to a court challenge.
  • Ontario’s new PC government unveiled its marijuana legalization plan this week. For ordinary consumers, the main change is that the province will have a far less restrictive approach to public marijuana smoking, allowing it anywhere tobacco smoking is allowed. Its design also seems designed to create a retail market with many small players, rather than a few big ones. Local governments will be allowed to opt out of having retail stores. There will be restrictions on how close a store can be to a school, but these will be announced later. (As we’ve reported, how big these distances are is critical to whether stores will be allowed at all in urban areas.)
  • What will actually happen on Oct. 17? A bit like New Year’s Eve, legalization will start in Newfoundland and roll westward across the country, hour by hour (or half-hour). Will Newfoundland liquor officials allow cannabis stores to open on the stroke of midnight? They have yet to decide.
  • The Alberta Motor Association launched an online campaign this week urging people not to drive stoned. “Cannabis affects your reaction time, attention span, co-ordination and decision-making — virtually everything that’s required to drive,” the AMA’s Jeff Kasbrick told Global News
  • The city of Leduc, Alta., has withdrawn its marijuana awareness campaign, which featured a friendly cartoon character named Buddy. Too friendly, some residents thought — and officials agreed on second thought. “Buddy’s purpose was to educate about responsible cannabis use in the community and not make cannabis enticing to children. We understand the concerns that our residents have,” the city said.
  • Will there be a shortage of marijuana after Oct. 17? Pot giant Aurora Cannabis says it’s “more than ready for consumer legalization.” (It seems likelier that the issues will be on the distribution side.)
WATCH: Global News tests new roadside device testing for cannabis in drivers
Click to play video: 'Global News tests new roadside device testing for cannabis in drivers'
Global News tests new roadside device testing for cannabis in drivers

What you had to say

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Last week, we asked you what you thought about media use (perhaps overuse) of “stoner” imagery in news stories about cannabis, such as this photo, shot on 4/20 on Parliament Hill a few years ago.

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Like the words used for cannabis/marijuana/pot/weed, it’s a bit of a litmus test for attitudes to legalization, as we found:

I would not use this picture. It depicts a stereotype that hasn’t been accurate since the 1970s, and paints a derogatory image of cannabis users. (In fact, we prefer the word ‘cannabis’ because it does not contain the racist overtones of “marijuana.”)
Ali Hammington

Not everyone who enjoys cannabis looks like that. I shock people when they find out I’m what society calls a pothead.

I would not use that image. Not only would it make you seem like your company is just a bunch of stoners. That image is of a woman who looks possibly underage. It looks irresponsible, to be honest.

If you want to change attitudes towards cannabis use, target the baby boomer population. I’ve read multiple times that men, particularly fathers, in their forties to fifties are going to be some of the biggest users of legal marijuana. That’s the market you want to target to change attitudes and gain customers.

This picture is very stereotypical and it only contributes to increase marginalization of cannabis users as “potheads” due to her choice of accessories. When I go to a dispensary I see mostly seniors and women. Why not research who are actually cannabis users? Why not use the power of mass media to start breaking down social constructions around citizens exercising their civil right of smoking a plant? We all know cigarettes are worse than marijuana yet one is socially acceptable while the other still gets the stink eye. We are moving towards legalization therefore you should be doing different pieces and looking for actual evidence than just a stereotypical photo.

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I would use this picture, titled something along the lines of degenerate pothead. These people are more passionate about pot than climate change, or a decent quality of life at an affordable rate. I am glad pot will finally be legal so we can move on.
Manitoba Taxpayer

WATCH: Roadside swab new tool for police detecting impaired drivers
Click to play video: 'Roadside swab new tool for police detecting impaired drivers'
Roadside swab new tool for police detecting impaired drivers

Send us your questions

So, we’re flipping this around: last week we asked you a question  now it’s your turn. What would you like to know about marijuana legalization? Send us your questions, and we’ll answer some next week.


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