Legalization means Mounties are training officers to spot drivers impaired by pot
The legalization of non-medical cannabis in Canada this fall means police forces are stepping-up their efforts to catch drivers who are under the influence.
You could end up going through a drug-influence examination, a 12-step check to help an officer determine if a driver has been using alcohol - or drugs.
Const. Chad Morrison is a drug recognition expert and drug evaluation and classification program coordinatorwith the Nova Scotia RCMP’s traffic services.
“There are central nervous system depressants, inhalants, dissociative anesthetics, cannabis, central nervous system stimulants, hallucinogens and narcotic analgesics.”
Friday, the Nova Scotia RCMP walked explained how those checks will take place.
It starts on the street, when a driver's pulled over on suspicion of being drunk or high, and is asked to do some standard roadside tests.
There’s one test called the walk and turn.
There are three tests: the walk and turn, the one leg stand, and an eye test.
After the traffic stop, if the officer finds there are probable grounds to believe the driver is impaired, there’s more testing back at the police station.
Once in custody - there are some medical tests - pulse, blood pressure, and an eye test to rule out any medical causes.
Then, it's on to more challenging stuff.
“What these tests do is they test your ability to divide your attention into multitasks, and those are all things that are required to operate a motor vehicle,” Morrison said.
Alex Noonan was a volunteer subject for a demonstration of the tests.
“I wasn't impaired for this,” Morrison said. “But if you were impaired, these would have been actually very challenging to complete, and I think it's a really good way for police officers to be able to tell somebody is impaired.”
Morrison said many substances can impair your ability to drive, and the Mounties are looking to train more officers to detect various types of impairment.
Right now, there are 65 officers in Nova Scotia trained to do this kind of testing.
“Given the coming legislation, I think it's probably reasonable to say that maybe there are more people smoking marijuana, maybe there are more people who are driving who are under the influence of marijuana and so yes, it would be good to have more officers who are trained in this,” Morrison said.
Twenty more are being trained soon to make sure everyone follows the rules of the road.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.