Washington grapples with stoned drivers

Justin Trudeau government plans to legalize marijuana, and US police say they need a roadside testing device

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste

Washington state police are dealing with more drivers impaired by marijuana since its recreational use was legalized last year, and B.C. is preparing for similar problems as a new federal government prepares to follow suit.

Chief John Batiste of the Washington State Patrol visited Victoria this week to take part in an annual cross-border crime forum. He acknowledged that it’s a problem since the state legalized marijuana sales to adults in 2014.

“We are seeing an uptick in incidents on our roadways related to folks driving under the influence of marijuana and drugs in general,” Batiste told reporters after a meeting with B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.

He explained the state’s new law setting a limit for marijuana’s active ingredient in blood, similar to the blood-alcohol limit. But without a roadside testing device, police are relying on training from the State Patrol’s drug recognition expert to make arrests.

What they need now is a roadside testing device that provides evidence of impairment that will hold up in court, Batiste said.

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau made a high-profile promise to legalize marijuana before winning a majority government Oct. 19.

In B.C., police can charge drivers if they show signs of impairment, whether from drugs or fatigue. In alcohol use cases, drivers are typically charged with impaired driving and driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 per cent.

Vancouver-based Cannabix Technologies is developing such a device. The company issued a statement Wednesday, noting that Trudeau has promised to begin work on legalizing marijuana “right away” and a reliable method of enforcement is needed across North America.

The company says it is developing a hand-held device that can detect marijuana use within the past two hours. Saliva and urine tests can come up positive for marijuana “long after intoxication has worn off,” the company stated.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Missing Nelson woman found dead

Police say there is no evidence of a crime in the death of Heather Gunderson

Foul play involved in Slocan Valley man’s death, police say

RCMP have identified dead man as 47-year-old Aaron Graham

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

VIDEO: Reconciliation is dead: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Donations pour in for family who lost father, son in fatal crash on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Most Read