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

Comox Valley Community Foundation hands out record amount of grant money

The Comox Community Centre the foundation handed out $330,000 to local organizations Tuesday.

Comox Valley school district planning Climate Action Conference for students

The voices of Comox Valley youth on the topic of climate change… Continue reading

Funder for Down Under in Courtenay raises thousands for Australia

Organizers still tallying up proceeds but expect to donate at least $8,000

Fourteen Comox Valley kids get bikes through Share the Ride

Several businesses combine efforts to get bikes and other cycling gear

Comox Valley artist’s mask heading to prestigious U.S. museum

John and Peggy Varnedoe purchased the piece and have donated it to the Burke Museum in Seattle.

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Thieves are targetting Comox Valley strata storage units

Criminals in the Comox Valley have been targeting storage units at condominium… Continue reading

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read