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  Ottawa Proposes Changes To Allow Drug-Testing
Posted by CN Staff on October 21, 2003 at 17:24:25 PT
By Isabelle Rodrigue 
Source: Canadian Press  

drug_testing Ottawa -- The federal government is preparing to respond to provincial demands by enacting laws that would allow police to test drivers for drugs, according to a government document.

The consultation paper, obtained by The Canadian Press, says the amended legislation would allow police to administer the tests to motorists suspected of being impaired by drugs. The paper, to be released Wednesday, outlines changes that have been sought for years by the provinces and police forces.

The paper will be distributed to the provinces, territories and various associations, which have one month to respond.

The Justice Department has outlined several options to allow officers to administer the drug tests and gather evidence for possible criminal charges.

The suggested amendments would establish a legal drug limit, the obligation to submit to tests, the possibility of providing urine, blood or perspiration samples and penalties for refusing to comply.

Although it's illegal in Canada to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol, there's no quick roadside test for drug use - unlike alcohol consumption, which can be measured on the spot by a breathalyser exam.

Under current laws, police officers can only ask drivers whether they have used drugs, but can't administer a test.

"If the police officers haven't received specific training about evaluating the effect of drugs, this task can be nearly impossible to accomplish," said the document.

The task isn't any easier for trained officers because a suspect can refuse to volunteer for a drug test. No law exists to force someone to take a test.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving denounced the consultation paper, saying Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has pushed for the decriminalization of marijuana while failing to enact measures to discourage drug-impaired driving.

"A consultation document doesn't save lives," said Louise Knox, president of MADD Canada.

"Ottawa must send a clear message that it takes these things very seriously before even thinking about passing a law on decriminalization."

The consultation paper also raised the possibility motorists might challenge the mandatory drug tests in court.

"The legislative proposals are vulnerable to attack under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," suggested the document, which asks for feedback from citizens and groups.

Complete Title: Ottawa Proposes Legal Changes To Allow Drug-Testing of Drivers

Source: Canadian Press
Author: Isabelle Rodrigue
Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Copyright: 2003 The Canadian Press

Related Articles & Web Site:

Cannabis News Canadian Links
http://freedomtoexhale.com/can.htm

B.C. Police Target Drivers Impaired by Drugs
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread16517.shtml

New Laws Needed for Drivers Smoking Pot
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15034.shtml

Pot Power To Police: MADD
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread16324.shtml


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Comment #5 posted by Marc Paquette on October 22, 2003 at 18:03:02 PT:

A Pandora's Box
A 2001 Australian study has determined that pot smokers on the wheel were slower and more attentive drivers. Now, if they want to start testing for marijuana, this will open a Pandora's Box for all kinds of drugs..legal and illegal. Soon, it will be illegal to drive if you are under the effect of Valium or Prozac.

Peace,

Marc

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Comment #4 posted by observer on October 22, 2003 at 12:48:44 PT
Full Steam Ahead With Anti-Pot-smoker Pogroms
''Mothers Against Drunk Driving denounced the consultation paper, saying Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has pushed for the decriminalization of marijuana while failing to enact measures to discourage drug-impaired driving. 'A consultation document doesn't save lives,' said Louise Knox, president of MADD Canada.''

Not that this little PC harpy Louise Knocks gives a dang about actual results. She's too busy on her self-righteous crusade to pay much attention to little details like whether taking cannabis actually is a problem for drivers or not. (Clue: Cannabis is not a driving problem, because cannabis users are statistically SAFER drivers than non-cannabis smokers. Alcohol-impaired or even so-called "sober" drivers do WORSE and cause MORE accidents than marijuana users.) Of course, self-annointed punishers like little Louise there can't be bothered with facts. They just know better; their noble intentions make up for their politically-correct lies.

Cannabis/Driving Studies

Australia: No Proof Cannabis Put Drivers At Risk (2001) http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1849/a09.html

UK: Cannabis May Make You A Safer Driver (2000) http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1161/a02.html

University Of Toronto Study Shows Marijuana Not A Factor In Driving Accidents (1999) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases\1999\03\990325110700.htm

Australia: Cannabis Crash Risk Less: Study (1998) http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98/n945/a08.html

Australia: Study Goes to Pot (1998) http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98/n947/a06.html



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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 22, 2003 at 08:49:25 PT
Related Article from Snipped Source
Ottawa Wants Roadside Drug Tests

Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

OTTAWA - The federal government wants to give police the power to conduct roadside checks for drug use by doing a battery of tests on the spot and further probing at the police station that could include taking blood samples.

The multi-level scheme to nab drug-impaired drivers, which has been in the works for months, is contained in a public discussion paper obtained by CanWest News Service that is scheduled for release today.

Federal officials acknowledge there is an increased urgency for a drug test -- dubbed a "potalyser" by some -- in light of proposed legislation that would decriminalize pot possession, even when found in vehicles.

People caught with less than 15 grams of drugs in their vehicles would no longer be criminally charged, but they would be subject to a $400 fine.

It will remain illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs, but there has been no reliable test like the breathalyser for alcohol.

Unlike drunk driving, in which there is a measurable link between blood alcohol levels and driving ability, research is lacking to equate drug quantity and impairment.

"Drugs, unlike alcohol, are often extremely difficult to link to a particular concentration level that will cause impairment in the general population of drivers," says the paper, written by a federal-provincial-territorial group on impaired driving. "Moreover, analysis for some drugs in certain bodily fluids may simply indicate drug use many days, or even months, in the past."

Unlike drunk driving, there is no legal limit for drug use while driving.

The federal government wants to train police officers across Canada to become experts in recognizing physiological symptoms of impairment and then allow them to conduct physical tests at the roadside.

If a suspect fails -- and it is determined he or she is not alcohol impaired -- police could proceed to the next stage of saliva and urine testing. The procedure could then move to the police station, where police could demand blood samples.

The Justice Department, in the discussion paper, concedes mandatory testing could raise Charter of Rights concerns, partly because screening would take much longer than tests for drunk driving. "These legislative proposals are charter sensitive," says the policy paper.

"These proposals would require the suspect to participate in a process that may result in incriminating evidence. Consideration would have to be given as to the point in time at which a suspect may be given information on the right to counsel."

The federal government's testing scheme would include penalties for people who refuse to co-operate.

Currently, police rely on a driver's behaviour and witness testimony to determine drug use. There are officers in British Columbia who are trained to administer roadside tests, but there is no law that forces drivers to comply.

Copyright: 2003 Edmonton Journal

Snipped:

Complete Article: http://www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/story.asp?id=38842B22-2B1A-4F11-A9EC-2AFDADB2F0B0

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Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on October 22, 2003 at 02:46:59 PT
From the Canadian Senate Committee report of 9/02
Given what we have seen, we conclude the following:

- Between 5% and 12% of drivers may drive under the influence of cannabis; this percentage increases to over 20% for young men under 25 years of age;

- Cannabis alone, particularly in low doses, has little effect on the skills involved in automobile driving. Cannabis leads to a more cautious style of driving. However it has a negative impact on decision time and trajectory. This in itself does not mean that drivers under the influence of cannabis represent a traffic safety risk;

- A significant percentage of impaired drivers test positive for cannabis and alcohol together. The effects of cannabis when combined with alcohol are more significant than is the case for alcohol alone;

- Despite recent progress, there does not yet exist a reliable and non intrusive rapid roadside testing method;

- Blood remains the best medium for detecting the presence of cannabinoids;

- Urine cannot screen for recent use;

- Saliva is promising, but rapid commercial tests are not yet reliable enough;

- The visual recognition method used by police officers has yielded satisfactory results; and

- It is essential to conduct studies in order to develop a rapid testing tool and learn more about the driving habits of cannabis users.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/ille-e/rep-e/summary-e.pdf

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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on October 21, 2003 at 20:07:29 PT
To the Canadian gov.
"Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily." - Robert A. Heinlein

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