Vancouver lawyer says new roadside marijuana testing won’t work

The Drager Drug Test 5000 was approved Monday by the federal government, the first saliva screening equipment to be used by law enforcement to test for THC — the main psychoactive agent in cannabis.

Acumen Law Corporation lawyer, Kyla Lee, says the test will cost $20 each time a police officer uses it, won’t work in any temperature below 4 C, and the results won’t even stand up in court.

“It only deals with detecting the presence of drugs in a person’s body. It doesn’t indicate whether or not a person is impaired, so it will give the officers grounds to arrest someone and consider investigating but it’s just another step in what the officers will be doing. It’s not going to be proof in court.”

In a news release, the federal government says the equipment will now be made available to police forces across the country, and it will be up to police to decide what testing equipment they want to use.

Manufacturers have told the government that they could meet demand for roadside saliva testing equipment within four to six weeks.

The Liberals have pledged $161 million in funding for police training and drug-testing equipment over the next five years, as well as a public awareness campaign about the perils of driving while high.

Lee says that will go down the tube in the first year.

“Ireland had this problem. They expected hundreds of thousands of drivers to be checked and it was so expensive and difficult and time-consuming to be used that there was only a handful of tests done in the first year.”

She adds the devices cost $6,000 each, and the printer that goes along with it — another $1,200.

Legislation that passed Parliament in June allows for the use of roadside saliva tests to detect the presence of drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.