Roadside Drug Screening Device

Resolution Year: 
2016

WHEREAS the Federal Government of Canada intends to legalize and regulate marijuana in 2016; and

WHEREAS the Federal Government has committed to stronger laws to punish those who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana; and

WHEREAS drivers under the influence of drugs pose a danger to themselves and other users of the highway; and

WHEREAS section 253 of the Criminal Code makes it an offense to operate a vehicle while impaired by a drug; and

WHEREAS Canada does not currently have a roadside screening device to detect drugs in impaired drivers, although roadside screening devices have been used effectively in other countries, including Australia; and;

WHEREAS without a roadside drug screening device, police officers will have a more difficult time detecting drug impaired driving, and crown prosecutors will have difficulty prosecuting drug impaired drivers.

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Association of Police Governance urges the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada to improve the safety of Canada’s roadways by identifying and approving a roadside drug screening device that will enhance the investigation and prosecution of drug impaired driving.

Background: 

See 2014 Resolutions for background information. This resolution has new urgency with the planned announcement in Spring 2016 of the Federal Government's plans to legalize marijuana.

Response: 

Minister of Transportation: Our government is constructing a cross-ministerial committee to direct this work from a provincial perspective. The federal government has also expressed their commitment to broad consultations on this issue, but we have not received specific information on what this consultative process will entail. I agree that traffic safety is a critical priority and our team is committed to working together with our federal counterparts to ensure the safest solutions for all Albertans.

Minister of Justice & Solicitor General: In follow-up to my department's response on AAPG's 2014 Resolution regarding roadside drug screening devices, I provide the following update:
a. Saliva-based roadside devices can assess recent drug use by screening oral fluids. Devices such as the Draeger Drug Test, Drugwipe, and Alere are in use in other countries
but will need to be tested by police services in Canada before they can be approved for use here. In April 2016, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed that they will be
testing oral fluid drug screening devices. Legislative changes will be necessary before these devices can be used in Canada. The department supports research of this nature and
will be keeping abreast of any legislative changes being proposed federally.
b. The Government of Canada is moving forward with their commitment to legalize, restrict, and strictly regulate marijuana. This work is being led by Health Canada, Public Safety Canada, and Justice Canada. A federal task force has been formed and a secretariat has been established within Health Canada.
c. The Government of Alberta is currently in the process of developing a cross-ministerial committee to direct this work from a provincial perspective. The federal government has expressed their commitment to broad consultations on this issue, but the department has yet to receive specific information on what this consultative process will entail.

Federal Minister of Justice: our government is committed to improving the safety of our roads and highways. As we move forward with our commitments, we will consider the issue of impaired driving very carefully. Those who drive while impaired by drugs, including marijuana, will be subject to stronger laws. In addition, we are currently examining ways to improve the ability to detect and prosecute drug-impaired driving.