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Cannabis 'not really going to change' how RIDE program works: City police

Roadside drug screening devices, drug recognition experts could be a part of first Festive RIDE program since cannabis legalized in Canada
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File photo. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

This year’s Festive RIDE program looks to ‘reduce impaired driving everywhere’ over the holiday season, and according to Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, that also applies to cannabis.

“Well, it’s not really going to change how we do business,” Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Cnst. Sonny Spina told reporters during Wednesday’s Festive RIDE program kick off. “We’re going to do business the same way that we always do - we’re going to go out there and ensure that people are operating motor vehicles safely, and that they’re doing so consistently across the city.”

Spina says that a few roadside drug screening devices are currently in service, with some officers in the process of being trained on how to use them.

Such devices could be a part of any vehicle check during this year’s Festive RIDE program, but even if there are no roadside drug screening devices on site, Spina told reporters that they are always available “at a moment’s notice” if a test is required.

“Those devices can detect the presence of cannabis or cocaine within someone’s system, but they’re not telling us an amount,” said Spina. “They’re not telling us an exact amount that would be in that person’s system.”

But if the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service was looking at potentially laying charges for drug impaired driving, there are other tools at its disposal.

City police can employ the services of a standard field sobriety technician (SFST) or a drug recognition expert that can attend the scene and administer tests on drivers.

Meanwhile, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service would like to remind novice drivers - which applies to those holding a G1 or G2 licence, and drivers under the age of 22 years old - that there is zero tolerance for driving while under the effects of cannabis.

“Even though there’s been a shift in laws with regards to consumption of cannabis, they are still required to have zero in their system while they’re driving,” said Spina. “Even though there is a limit that the federal government had imposed for cannabis for adults, for novice drivers, it’s still zero.”

Upcoming changes to federal legislation will enable police across Canada to demand a breath sample from any driver, at any time, for any reason - but those changes do not apply to cannabis, police say. 


James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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