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.

Just Posted

Two VicPD officers injured, man and woman facing charges

Police were called to the scene Sunday night after a man tried to kick in someone’s door

Oak Bay youth give teens a voice, explore homelessness, talk to seniors for podcasts

Teens pleased as teacher adds podcast creation to English 12 class

Sooke mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

PHOTOS: 120th Annual Victoria Day Parade

Check out the photo gallery, watch our live feed of the festivities

Canadian National Standup Paddleboard races in Sidney this weekend

Three day event on the Sidney waterfront, May 25 to 27

VIDEO: Tide pool school draws a crowd to explore seaside in Oak Bay

Friends of Uplands Park hosted the inter-tidal exploration at Cattle Point on… Continue reading

VIDEO: How to use naloxone to stop a fentanyl overdose

ANKORS’ Chloe Sage shows what to do when someone is overdosing

B.C. piano teacher faces more sex assault charges

Dmytro Kubyshkin of Coquitlam is accused of sex assault involving former students

Mounties cleared after shooting B.C. man armed with toy gun

Independent Investigations Office reports it will pass on a report to Crown counsel

UPDATED: BC Ferries freezes plans to nix fuel rebates pending government funds

Claire Trevena says she is ‘extremely disappointed’ by a plan by BC Ferries to remove fuel rebates

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

Most Read