B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth (Black Press)

Saliva test likely for marijuana impairment

Enforcement must be ready by next July, Mike Farnworth says

The federal government is offering provinces help with the task of enforcing marijuana-impaired driving by the time recreational use is legalized across Canada on July 1, 2018.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the issue of enforcement was a main focus of his meetings with other provincial ministers and federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould last week.

The federal parliament is considering Bill C-46, the Justin Trudeau government’s proposed crackdown on impaired driving. The legislation gives police new powers to demand breath samples for alcohol and saliva samples for drug impairment, and it was introduced this spring along with the legislation to legalize recreational marijuana sales.

RELATED: Local governments want help with pot regulation

“What the feds have indicated to us is that they will be giving us assistance in that regard, particularly with the kinds of testing that they agree on,” Farnworth said. “I know that there’s been a lot of work done particularly on the saliva test for example.”

Farnworth said B.C. has not decided on penalties for drug-impaired driving, but he prefers a common set of rules across the country.

“It’s my expectation that that is a critical issue that’s got to be addressed by the time legalization occurs in July 2018,” Farnworth said.

Wilson-Raybould has argued that demanding a breath or saliva sample is no different from demanding a driver’s licence.

“The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized as reasonable the authority, under provincial law and common law, of police officers to stop vehicles at random to ensure that drivers are licensed and insured, that the vehicle is mechanically fit, and to check for sobriety,” Wilson-Raybould said in May.


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