What has been revealed about the ability to detect non-alcohol drug impairment now that legalization of cannabis has taken place in Canada? For decades there has been a focused attention placed on alcohol impairment and various statistics have shown its relevance to major-injury and fatal collisions. Yet essentially nothing was mentioned about non-alcohol, drug impairment. It is only now that a discussion is developing because of concerns expressed that police may have limited ability to detect driver impairment due to cannabis use.
In a recently publicized letter from Ontario Premier Doug Ford to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the reality was noted that only a single piece of drug detection equipment, the Drager DrugTest 5000, has recently been made available to police. But how recently? How many of these machines were available to police 2 years ago, or 5 years ago, or 10 years ago? The truth emerges that likely very little, if any, objective testing was available even a short while before cannabis legalization. So what was the public being told during these many years and why was this problem not made more widely known?
Even though cannabis can be detected a further discussion is revealing that it is difficult to determine what levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, constitute impairment. However this cannot be a new finding. Surely this was known since the decades of use in the well-known activities of youth in the 1960s and onward.
If nothing more, this discussion reveals how important factors in the causation of motor vehicle collisions are officially withheld from public knowledge. There are many unpleasant realities, like non-alcohol drug impairment, that do not have an immediate solution. The hiding of these problems become of way of not having to face them in the public domain. Yet their hiding is also the mechanism that prevents their resolution.