Now-Leader file photo

Roadside device to weed out THC can’t detect impairment, B.C. lawyer says

‘This fact alone is likely to have serious implications for Canadians’ Charter Rights,’ lawyer Sarah Leamon warns

A B.C.-based criminal defence lawyer says “chances are high” that a roadside screening device that the federal government is set to approve to weed out stoned drivers will be vulnerable to a court challenge.

It’s called Abbott SoToxa, and can detect THC among other drugs.

“The government has abstained from officially approving the device until the 30-day consultation period following its announcing has expired,” noted lawyer Sarah Leamon, counting down from the April 20 announcement. “But now that it’s done, chances are high that the SoToxa will be approved some time this week.”

But the catch is, Leamon says, “it cannot measure drug impairment. This fact alone is likely to have serious implications for Canadians’ Charter Rights.”

Sarah Leamon, criminal defence lawyer. (Submitted photo)

“The problem with all this technology, at the end of the day, is that it just cannot detect impairment,” she told the Now-Leader. “So it simply detects presence of a drug in the oral fluid, it does not even detect the drug in the blood stream and it says nothing about impairment.”

READ MORE: 10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Asked why the feds would bother with it, then, Leamon said the approach the government has always taken to cannabis and driving, following its legalization, “has been to mirror it with the alcohol-impaired driving.

“With alcohol-impaired driving we have those per-se limits where you could be charged with impaired driving, you could also be charged with driving with a blood alcohol concentration over 80 milligrams per cent,” she noted.

“They’re trying to mirror that exact same thing for THC but the problem is that alcohol and THC are just completely different animals. I think they’re just not approaching it using an informed common-sense approach, for lack of a better term.”

RCMP Lower Mainland District spokesperson Sgt. Janelle Shoihet told Black Press Media that “any decisions about devices being used would be co-ordinated by our national office and not unique to the BC RCMP.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Vernon Realtors throw party, raise money for local teens

O’Keefe 3 Percent Realty raised $2,475 for Teen Junction

Piper’s swan song at Vernon Remembrance Day ceremony

Founder of Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band hangs his hat

Vernon council to boost speed limit on problematic roadway

Despite crash records, fatalities and opposition from staff and residents, speed limits could rise

Okanagan Symphony celebrates 60 years

Themes and Innovations is the second concert in the milestone season

Experience winter magic in Armstrong the old fashioned way

Horse Drawn Okanagan sleigh rides to run through December

CN Rail confirms job cuts as weakening economy cuts into freight volumes

Railroad also said it was affected by a slowdown in the B.C.’s forestry sector

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Advertising restrictions frustrate Salmon Arm cannabis retailers

Retail prices off-putting to some, but businesses finding supportive clientele

New case of vaping-related illness in Quebec brings national total to 8

Quebec health minister considering tightening the rules around vaping products

Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Green leader Elizabeth May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Friday, discussing common ground

Penticton RCMP reviewing sexual assault claims

Thirty-eight per cent of the sexual assault reports in 2018 were deemed “unfounded” by RCMP

Kelowna mayor apologizes for initial reaction to sexual assault statistics

The mayor issued the statement after he came under heavy fire from a sexual assault survivor

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Most Read