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RCMP charge five drivers on P. E. I for suspected cannabis impairment

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‘Impaired is impaired, and for some users, they may be habitual users and may have a false sense of confidence in their abilities’

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An impaired driving blitz on P.E.I. has led to charges against 10 individuals, including five drivers suspected of being under the influence of cannabis.

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A spokesperson for the RCMP Provincial Priority Unit told CBC that the arrests occurred between Thursday and Saturday of last week.

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“Impaired is impaired, and for some users, they may be habitual users and may have a false sense of confidence in their abilities,” the spokesperson said.

  1. Police officers check vehicles at a checkpoint set up at the Foxtrap Weigh Scales in Newfoundland.

    Impaired driving blitz leads to cannabis charges against two men in Newfoundland

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The spokesperson added that motorists can expect to see an increase in sobriety checkpoints across P.E.I. during the holiday season.

Testing for cannabis impairment remains a challenge. There are currently two approved roadside drug screening devices used in Canada, SoToxa and the Dräger DrugTest 5000. Each screening system also uses a saliva sample to test for the presence of drugs.

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The federal government notes that testing at or over 2 ng, but under 5 ng, of THC per millilitre (ml) of blood, is a summary conviction offence punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000. Those who test over 5 ng face a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine for a first offence, 30 days imprisonment for a second offence and 120 days imprisonment for a third offence.

That said, the accuracy of the devices has been challenged by lawyers who question the reliability of the technology, especially in cold-weather locations.

The RCMP spokesperson said that, despite some drivers having confidence in their ability to drive under the influence of cannabis, “when their blood is tested or they’re given a roadside test and they fail that, they do not have the skills to drive a vehicle like a sober person.”

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Earlier this month, police in Newfoundland set up roadside checkpoints in at least eight locations across the province for National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day. The blitz led to just four arrests after police checked more than 1,200 vehicles.

Two drivers, aged 65 and 57, are facing possible cannabis impairment charges. The men tested positive for cannabis at the roadside and were later transported to hospital where blood samples were collected. Officers are awaiting those test results to determine if charges of impaired driving are appropriate.

Last month, the founder of a Montana-based company called Gaize, which has developed a device to can scan the user’s eye to detect THC impairment, told High Times that U.S. law enforcement agencies have already agreed to use the technology.

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“I’ll preface all of this by saying I am pro cannabis. I’m pro cannabis legalization. I’m doing this because I see a distinct need at the federal level to have some product to detect impairment so we can keep roads safe,” said Ken Fichtler.

The scans cannot be used in court, however, they can be utilized by police to make a judgment call about whether or not someone is impaired.

“You can’t simply measure THC and say, ‘Yeah, OK, this guy’s high because he’s got five nanograms of THC in his body,’ right? It just doesn’t work that way,” Fichtler said. “What we’re doing is actually directly measuring how impairment manifests in the body, which I think is a much more rational, measured and fair path forward.”

We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with feedback and story tips at thegrowthop@postmedia.com

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