Drug-impaired driving concerns have police testing roadside devices

Police across Canada will be testing three saliva-based roadside devices on suspected drug-impaired drivers after a team of forensic scientists studied how they detect the presence of marijuana's main mind-altering ingredient.

VANCOUVER — Police across Canada will be testing three saliva-based roadside devices on suspected drug-impaired drivers after a team of forensic scientists studied how they detect the presence of marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient.

Doug Beirness, vice-chairman of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science’s Drugs and Driving Committee, says the Mounties and the Ontario government funded the scientists’ research.

The RCMP confirms its plans involving oral fluid drug screening devices, saying they are similar to current tools used to detect alcohol.

The force says in a statement that drug-impaired driving is becoming as prevalent as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Beirness says two of the devices to test for THC are manufactured by a German company and the other is made in Britain, and that police need such tools as Canada is poised to legalize pot.

Beirness, who co-authored a 2015 report on cannabis use and driving for the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, says the devices will help provide police with objective evidence that could lead to convictions.