Washington grapples with stoned drivers

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

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.

Just Posted

Smoking ban arrives on BC Ferries this morning

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries enacts smoking ban

Cowichan wrestling camp kicks off New Year

Camp attracts wrestlers from Valley, Victoria and Mainland

Ballet ‘Anastasia’ explores Russian mystery

Who was Grand Duchess Anastasia? What happened to her after 1918? Ballet tells gripping tale

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Column: Trump dangerous to Cowichan Valley’s economy

The tentacles of the controversial American president reach even into the Cowichan Valley.

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Plan your Hometown Hockey weekend

Find your favourites on the Hometown Hockey schedule

Hometown Hockey: Cowichan Capitals events

On Jan. 20 there will be special features during the game for Hometown Hockey

Coming up in Cowichan: Rain workshop, Joseph Mairs Memorial, timely film

Participants are encouraged to bring their roof dimensions

A look at potential Canadian nominees for this year’s Oscars

The nominations are to be revealed Tuesday morning for the 90th Academy Awards

B.C. expert weighs in on why kids are eating Tide pods for fun

Why are kids taking part in something completely pointless yet so risky?

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Most Read