By Jared Hillel
A recent document released by Public Safety Canada (PSC) says police may increase the frequency of drug tests with the upcoming legalization of marijuana.
According to the document, PSC will need to “determine the current laboratory capacity to deal with a potential influx of samples to be tested for cannabinoids and other drugs in Canada.”
A survey from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released Dec. 7 shows the number of Ontario residents who smoke pot has increased over the past 20 years, from nine to 14 per cent. About 18 per cent of young adults in Ontario aged 18-29 reported smoking pot in 1996, but the number shot up to nearly 38 per cent in 2015.
The PSC document states several reasons why police would test citizens blood, urine, or saliva for pot once it is legalized, including to punish people for driving under the influence, and to ensure employers comply with regulations so that employees respect company drug policies.
Nearly three per cent of pot users in the CAMH survey said they had driven a vehicle shortly after using cannabis in 2015, an increase from 1.5 per cent of users who reported the same in 2010.
Last week, the Canadian Automobile Association released a survey that found 63 per cent of Canadians are concerned roads will be more dangerous once pot is legal.
Carleton public affairs and policy management student Sam Pevalin said an increase in drug tests could be justified once marijuana becomes legal.
Pevalin said testing more drivers for pot use would be “helpful” to stop criminal behaviour and risks associated with driving while high.
“Once weed becomes fully legal, more people will assume that driving while high is totally acceptable, since a lot of people already do it,” Pevalin said.
—With files from Ryley White