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

Board of Education hires independent consultant to review SD82 reassignments

Review will not change recent decisions but will gather input, says board chair

Prince Rupert marine business adds second catamaran to its fleet

100-passenger Aurora was launched this year for the Rio Tinto Kemano tunnel project

Indigenous voices finally heard with final MMIWG report, says Northwest B.C. advocate

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

Terrace-area gold project shows strong promise

Juggernaut Exploration hopes this year’s drilling will follow last year’s exceptional program

New protocol will better assist victims of sexual assault

Victims of sexual assault are set to benefit from the completion of… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Most Read