Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to call to order this meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, as we continue our study of Bill .
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of these important groups testifying before us today.
From the Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corporation, we have Mr. Felix J.E. Comeau, chairman and chief executive officer. Welcome, Mr. Comeau. We also have Mr. Abe Verghis, supervisor, regulatory affairs. Welcome, Mr. Verghis.
Joining us from the Railway Association of Canada are Gérald Gauthier, vice-president, and Simon-Pierre Paquette, labour and employment counsel.
Welcome, Mr. Gauthier and Mr. Paquette.
From the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, we have Savannah Gentile, director, advocacy and legal issues. Welcome, Ms. Gentile.
We are going to start right away with testimony. We will move to Monsieur Comeau and Mr. Verghis.
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to present some information to the committee. I applaud the committee and the work of the government in the changes being made with Bill .
This brings up three areas of comment. The first is related to proposed subsection 320.27(1), which in part requires “reasonable grounds” in order to require a drug test. The test for reasonable grounds has had its day in court for many years for alcohol testing, since the mid-seventies. Of course, the courts are filled with cases where this comes forward. I would recommend, in the case of proposed subsection 320.27(1), that instead, proposed subsection 320.27(2) be expanded to include mandatory drug screening through the use of oral fluid screening devices. There is a 10-year history of this type of case law in Australia, with a very effective program countrywide.
The second thing I wish to draw your attention to is proposed paragraph 320.28(2)(b), which requires “samples of blood” for subsequent analysis in the case of drugs of use. Once again, if one draws upon the information historically and throughout the world, samples of saliva are well known. In fact, there is very good data to support the use of saliva samples, oral fluid, instead of blood. It's easy and it's reliable.
We have a chart in the presentation, which will be shown later on, that illustrates the work of Drs. Huestis and Cone from 2004. It has been replicated many times, and shows that oral fluid for THC mimics the concentration of that drug compound in blood from a few minutes after smoking. The oral contamination of the cannabis is removed from the oral cavity quickly, and one sees a track of oral THC with blood. The same occurs very well with many other drugs, but THC was of interest.
The third issue is with regard to proposed paragraph 320.28(4)(a), which enables the collection of a biological sample of “oral fluid or urine”. I would propose that “urine” be struck from this part of the bill, because urine is useful in post-mortem cases. We wish to deal with living drivers. Urine is a collection of what has been—past tense. The drug that you're interested in could have been there from days, weeks, or even months ago. It has not very good evidential value for a criminal or even a provincial case. Again, I would recommend that “urine” be removed there.
As a background to these statements, particularly for THC, we know that the drug recognition experts have been involved in the United States, and more recently in Canada, with the apprehension and prosecution of drug-impaired drivers, whereas in many other places in the world, notably in Europe and Australia, the use of oral fluids has been the predominant choice. If we look at, in the case of THC, the time course of occurrence, we see that within minutes of smoking a joint, or a cigarette containing a modest amount of cannabis, one can peak well into 140 to 150 nanograms per millilitre of THC in the blood. Then you'll see the time course where it drops to less than 20% of its peak within an hour. Within two or three hours, there's relatively little left in the body to be detected. So if one is relying solely on field sobriety tests and the work of DREs, one is limiting the opportunity to collect evidence at the roadside.
Again, in Europe and in Australia, which have been doing this for 10 years or more, oral fluid is used, and the apprehension of drugged drivers is very predominant.
We can look, further, at the work of another researcher. This is in the United States, where one is looking at the frequency of occurrence of THC in blood samples collected after a DRE examination. One can see that fully 70% of the samples have little evidentiary value. They're below five micrograms per litre, post-collection. This is a blood sample collected after a DRE examination. It's very difficult.
If one is reviewing the legislation currently with the inclusion of drugs with alcohol, one would like to use what has been gained over the past 50 years with breath alcohol testing in Canada. Alcohol is very different from THC and vice versa. Alcohol is water soluble. It distributes through the body. Its effects are proportional to the concentration of alcohol.
THC is not that way. THC is fat soluble. It attaches to the lipid molecules in the body and is resident in the brain for a longer period of time than its concentration in the blood. One has to be quick about determining the drug-impaired driving at the roadside, collect a sample for evidentiary value, and then move onwards.
As for the collection of oral fluid, as I mentioned, it's very simple. The devices are well known. It's as simple as a kit such as this. To collect a sample, that's it. A simple swab of the tongue, and it's done. You press the button, and the test starts. The results are known in five minutes. That's an oral fluid test.
For confirmatory testing, there are commercially available kits on the market being used extensively in countries such as Australia, which use oral fluid as the secondary sample for evidentiary value. It's collection is as simple as a sucker. Put it in the person's mouth. Hold it there for a few minutes. The end turns blue. You have your sample. You take it and put it in a vial, wrap it, mark it for evidential value, and there you are. It's a simple procedure to use oral fluid.
My recommendations are that we use mandatory alcohol and drug screening at the roadside; that we concentrate on the use of oral fluids in addition to blood, because blood is already in the Criminal Code for alcohol offences; that we don't limit the police officers at the roadside with the requirement of reasonable suspicion, which we know is going to be problematic in the courts.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I am the vice-president of the Railway Association of Canada, which represents more than 50 freight and passenger rail operators, consisting of six class I rail carriers, 40 local and regional railways, as well as many passenger and commuter rail operators including VIA Rail, GO Transit, and tourist railways. Some of our passenger members are also members of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, which will appear before you later today.
With me is Mr. Simon-Pierre Paquette, labour and employment counsel at CN, Canada's largest railway. We come before you regarding a subject on which all can agree: the importance of working together to maintain safe rail operations.
In its November 30, 2016, final report, the task force on the legalization of cannabis highlighted the importance of addressing the safety implications of workplace impairment arising from the consumption of marijuana in safety sensitive settings such as transportation; hence the bill you are studying today.
Freight railways carry all the goods that sustain Canada's economy and its people, including many dangerous goods, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, liquefied natural gas, butane, anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, chlorine, and hydrochloric acid. We also transport military equipment and munitions for the Canadian Armed Forces.
Canada's rail network operates every day, year-round, through all our major population and economic centres and goes over some 30,000 federal and provincial road crossings as well as environmentally sensitive areas such as national parks. The movement of goods over rail requires strict adherence to the Railway Safety Act to minimize risk for the public, for the employees, for the environment, and for private and public property.
Our sector employs approximately 30,000 people, many of whom hold safety-critical positions—mainly anyone directly engaged in the operation of trains, in mainline or yard service, or in rail traffic control.
Canada's railways are committed to running the safest rail network possible. A key part of this is ensuring that railway employees are fit to work. We feel it is imperative that some safety concerns be addressed concurrently with plans to legalize marijuana.
I am now turning to Simon-Pierre to address the suggestions we have to mitigate the risks from increased accidents following the legalization of cannabis.
Marijuana diminishes vigilance, concentration, depth perception, and the ability to perform automated tasks. It slows reaction time, and delayed reactions can occur over prolonged periods. These are just a few of its deleterious effects, which pose significant safety risks and increase the risk of injury to users and those around them in a live environment like a rail yard.
Legalizing marijuana will normalize its consumption, increase its availability, and provide greater opportunities for people to consume it. As an industry, we have no interest in regulating what people do on their own time, but as employers we have an obligation to ensure employees are fit to work and not impaired by any substance, legal or not, that may pose a risk to safe operations.
There is no legislation at this time mandating drug or alcohol testing for any position in Canada's transportation industry. This is left to individual railways, whose efforts are frequently subject to legal challenges. This creates an uneven patchwork across the industry, which is detrimental to safety.
Canada's overall approach to the prevention of workplace impairment in safety sensitive environments is reactive instead of proactive. For example, employees showing signs of impairment can be tested for reasonable cause, but this depends on pure observation, and drugs frequently provide few, and sometimes no, visible signs of impairment detectable before an accident happens. Now, employees can be tested in post-accident settings, to be sure, but this means that other screening methods have failed and that safety was seriously compromised.
In rail operations this can entail very serious consequences, which I don't think need to be overstated, for employees themselves, their co-workers, the public, and the environment. Marijuana is the drug most frequently found in employees who fail post-accident tests.
We are pleased that this bill proposes strengthening the Criminal Code by making it an offence to operate rail equipment while exceeding certain blood drug concentrations. However, while this may punish the offender, it remains a reactive measure that will not prevent an accident from occurring. In a context where marijuana is legalized, greater preventive focus is required.
Drug tests, including random tests, are required by law in the United States. The U.S. Department of Transportation considers random testing an effective deterrent, and indeed U.S. law lists deterrence as the purpose of random testing. In our industry's experience, it is very effective.
Both Canadian class I railways and some of the RAC's other members operate on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. Canadian courts have long accepted that Canadian employees can validly be subject to U.S. random testing rules when they cross into the United States. The Supreme Court of Canada has likewise accepted that random testing can be permissible in circumstances posing enhanced risks to safety.
This bill acknowledges the need for preventive measures, notably by authorizing mandatory screenings at roadside stops. This is the right time to harmonize the Canadian and U.S. approaches to rail safety by adopting shared preventive screening standards. The legal framework is there, and Parliament's leadership is needed to establish a consistent, reliable regulatory framework for Canada's transportation sector, including establishing a per se limit for deemed impairment, approving a reliable instant-reading testing device to screen for drug impairment, and mandating the preventive monitoring of employees' fitness for duty, notably through random testing.
Thank you, and we will be pleased to answer to the best of our knowledge in either official language any questions you may have.
My name is Savannah. I'm the director of advocacy and legal issues at the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, CAEFS.
I want to thank you first of all for accommodating our last-minute switch. Our president, Diana Majury, sends her regrets that she could not attend.
Our concerns are mostly general in nature. I want to start with the lack of resources available for those who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues. Our concern is that coming out with a bill that creates harsher punishments and penalties will capture those who are struggling with mental health and addiction, and it is our position that prison is never a useful response to drug-related crimes. It is an intervention that comes too late and fails to treat the source of the problem.
We're further concerned about access to justice. CAEFS is concerned that Bill will disproportionately impact members of racialized and marginalized groups, who are more likely to be traffic stopped, to be charged, and to receive convictions and harsher penalties. And this is if they don't plead out in the first place.
We are further concerned that a bill of this nature will lead to an increase in the criminalization of our youth. It is our position that more resources need to be diverted to communities to address and better equip them to educate and to heal.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to reconvene with our second panel of the day.
It's a pleasure to welcome, from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ms. Kathy Thompson, who is the assistant deputy minister, community safety and countering crime branch. Welcome, Ms. Thompson.
We also have Ms. Rachel Huggins, who is the manager, policy and development, serious and organized crime strategies division, community safety and countering crime branch. Welcome, Ms. Huggins.
From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we have Mr. Kevin Brosseau, who is the deputy commissioner, contract and aboriginal policing. Welcome, Mr. Brosseau.
From the Department of Justice, we are again joined by Mr. Greg Yost, who is counsel in the criminal law policy section. Welcome, Mr. Yost.
Colleagues, we're going to have opening statements from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but not the Department of Justice.
Just so you know, there are two members of our third panel, who are flying in and flying out from Toronto. They have flights at nine o'clock. In the event, somehow, that they are here and can make their opening statements now, my suggestion is that we allow them to make their opening statements now, so we can include them as part of this panel as well and finish before question period.
Ms. Thompson, the floor is yours.
Mr. Chairman and committee members, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you today from a law enforcement and public safety perspective regarding Bill .
As you know, my name is Kathy Thompson. I'm the assistant deputy minister at Public Safety Canada and I'm responsible for the drug file, principally. I'm joined today by my colleagues. We're here and we're pleased to answer any questions you may have with respect to Bill from our organization's perspective.
I recognize that you've already benefited from hearing from and Justice officials with respect to the bill. You've also heard from many other witnesses and stakeholders and we've been tracking that with interest.
Bill proposes specific enhanced measures to deal with impaired driving and driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol. Part 1 of Bill C-46 proposes to enact new Criminal Code offences prohibiting prescribed levels of drugs in the blood within two hours of driving and authorizes police to use oral fluid screening devices at the road side. Part 2 of Bill C-46 will modernize and simplify the transportation provisions of the Criminal Code by repealing all transportation offence provisions and replacing them with a new part. My submission today will focus on matters related to Part 1 of Bill C-46. As noted recently before the Standing Committee on Health with respect to the review of Bill , the cannabis act, this proposed legislation, Bill C-46, is meant to address a problem that exists currently concerning impaired driving, but also to ensure public safety in view of the creation of a new cannabis regime.
The government is committed to supporting the implementation of Bill , through screening, prosecution, public education, in order to send a clear message to Canadians that driving under the influence of any drug whatsoever is dangerous and criminal.
To begin, in terms of the broader public safety in law enforcement context, impaired driving continues to kill or injure more Canadians than any other crime. While alcohol-impaired incidents are declining, recent statistics show that the number of police reported drug-impaired incidents increased 11% from 2015 to 2016 for a total of about 3,100 incidents, which accounts for approximately 4% of all impaired driving offences. The number of police reported drug-impaired driving incidents is believed to be under-reported because detection requires specialized training, as we'll discuss shortly. If alcohol and drugs are present, it's easier for law enforcement to pursue only the alcohol impairment driving offence. Drug-impaired driving is a challenging offence to prosecute, as it requires proof of driving impairment, as well as impairment caused by a drug. Unlike alcohol, there is no separate offence for driving over a legal drug limit. Additionally, there are limited tools and training at present for front-line officers to detect drug-impaired driving.
On September 8, 2017, the government announced funding in support of Bill and in support of Bill as well. For Bill C-46, for drug-impaired driving, it committed up to $161 million for training of front-line officers on how to recognize the symptoms of drug-impaired driving, building law enforcement capacity across the country in support of this, providing access to drug screening devices, developing policy, bolstering research, and raising public awareness around drug-impaired driving, which I know has been a point that's been driven home in your discussions.
An amount of $80 million over the next five years will be available in order to provide access to drug screening devices in the provinces and territories, and to improve training for all police officers so that they are able to enforce new strengthened legislation.
Public Safety Canada has already engaged with provinces and territories to identify the current level capacity used to control and determine impaired driving. This initial work will help to establish how these funds are distributed across the country, and we will continue to engage all partners to further flesh out the allocation of these funds to ensure the most effective strategic use.
Building law enforcement capacity across the country to address impaired driving will be met by an increasing number of officers trained in standardized field sobriety tests, or SFSTs, and also drug recognition experts, or DREs, as we call them. There are approximately 3,400 SFST-trained officers in Canada, which is about 15% of front-line officers. These officers perform a set of divided-attention tests at roadside, which provide evidence that a driver is impaired. At the moment they are trained to recognize alcohol impairment only.
If the driver fails the test, the officer has reasonable grounds to believe there is impairment and can have further investigative tests conducted by a drug recognition expert, who is a police officer trained to detect impairment by drugs. There are approximately 600 DREs in Canada currently. In the proposed approach Public Safety is pursuing with provinces and territories, the intention is to have approximately 7,000 officers, representing about 33% of the front line, who are SFST-trained over the next two to three years, with a 50% coverage within five years. This number will then continue to increase as training institutes implement new training into their core curriculum. The objective is to put in place a “train the trainer” program across the country as the most efficient approach to meet these levels. The number of DRE-trained officers will increase by about 250, to about 800 officers.
In addition to training, further capacity for law enforcement to pursue impaired driving is being built through the testing and deployment of oral fluid screening devices. Public Safety is working with the RCMP and the Department of Justice to establish standards for these devices and have manufacturers submit their devices to be tested against these standards, with the aim of recommending the devices to the Minister of Justice, and allowing their initial deployment by spring 2018.
Last winter, the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the RCMP worked with seven police agencies across the country to conduct a pilot test on two oral fluid screening devices. The police indicated that the devices were generally easy to use in various weather conditions and temperatures, as well as various lighting conditions.
Another critical element of the work under way to address drug-impaired driving relates to public awareness. As I alluded to earlier, we know that this raises an important issue. Earlier this year Public Safety and partners, including the RCMP, used social media channels to encourage Canadians to drive sober as well as to dispel some of the myths that police cannot tell if you're driving high. This included a Twitter campaign. It was launched around March of last year, and it reached more than 13 million social media users. Presently, Public Safety Canada is broadening its reach and developing a national, multi-year public awareness campaign around drug-impaired driving specifically targeting youth, which will roll out very shortly this fall with radio, television, print, in movie theatres, and of course, through social media.
In addition, these efforts will be reinforced through work with provinces and territories and law enforcement agencies, indigenous policing services, and relevant stakeholder organizations, such as MADD and the Canadian Automobile Association, to inform the public and prevent drug-impaired driving.
There will also be federal efforts to improve research and data collection, thereby creating a better understanding of drug-impaired driving issues and making it possible to assess our efforts and investments in those areas, and also to improve accountability.
In summary, Mr. Chair, through this important legislation and related efforts, the government has indicated that it is committed to a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to drug-impaired driving and is proposing to take strong action to create new laws and initiatives to combat this crime. For its part, Public Safety and the RCMP are working together to develop supporting materials, training, and tools to help all law enforcement agencies across the country as well as border services to effectively and efficiently enforce the drug-impaired driving legislation.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on the issue of impaired driving, particularly in the context of the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada.
We all know the carnage that impaired driving causes on our streets and highways. In 2015, of all impaired driving incidents the police handled approximately 4% involved drug-impaired driving, as Ms. Thompson mentioned. However, road surveys indicate that drug-impaired driving is as prevalent as alcohol-impaired driving. Consequently, Canadian police officers need to have the necessary tools and the training to keep our roadways safe for everyone.
Driving while impaired by cannabis or any other drug, whether prescription or non-prescription, or by alcohol, is currently a criminal offence. To this end, the RCMP has a contingent of over 900 SFST-trained officers and is increasing this training to our officers. In addition, the curriculum for that training is being updated to include enhanced training on drugs that impair. This will better prepare and enable front-line officers to detect individuals who drive while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
Canadian police officers can also receive drug recognition expert training, which is accredited, as you likely know, by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and overseen by the RCMP for all police officers in Canada. A drug recognition expert puts a suspected drug-impaired individual through a standardized series of psycho-physical tests and can use clinical indicators to determine if an individual is impaired by drugs. If an individual is impaired by drugs, that DRE can also determine the category of drugs that is causing the impairment. Notably, in February of this year the Supreme Court ruled that the opinion of a DRE is considered expert testimony in court.
There area approximately 650 of these active trained experts across Canada, of which 200 or so are members of the RCMP, and then 450 are from municipal and provincial agencies. It is important to note these numbers change daily based on recertification dates.
SFST and DRE will continue to be the primary enforcement tools used in the investigation of drug-impaired driving.
In the meantime, support for the enforcement of drug-impaired driving laws and the prosecution of offenders is currently provided by the RCMP national forensic laboratory services. Forensic toxicologists analyze bodily fluid samples for the presence and concentration of drugs. They provide written laboratory reports or certificates for use in court, interpret the effects of drugs on the actions of individuals, and provide expert testimony in court.
Given that enforcement is not enough and with a focus on prevention, the RCMP continues to conduct outreach and awareness activities with Canadians, and with youth in particular, to educate and raise awareness of the harms of drug use, the consequences of impaired driving, and the potential negative outcomes on all of our communities. These efforts will need to be clear and consistent for the duration of the cannabis legalization process and beyond.
Everyone has the right to come home safe, and the RCMP is steadfast in our commitment to do all we can to enhance awareness, prevent impaired driving, and equip police officers with the tools and the necessary training. We'll also continue to work with our partners and stakeholders to educate the public about the consequences and dangers of impaired driving whether by alcohol or drugs.
Thank you. I look forward to taking your questions.
Members of the Standing Committee on Justice, let me begin by thanking you for your invitation to appear before you today as part of your study on Bill .
My name is Patrick Leclerc and I am the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA).
CUTA is the influential voice of the public transit sector across Canada. Our membership includes all transit systems in Canada, private sector companies, government agencies and urban mobility partners.
The safety of our communities is closely linked to the safety of our transit systems. Each year in Canada our members provide over two billion trips, drive over one billion kilometres, and are on the road for more than 53 million hours, all that in mixed traffic.
A few years ago, and you may remember this, CUTA worked hand-in-hand with transit leaders, transit unions, MPs, and senators to successfully and unanimously amend the Criminal Code to make assaulting a transit operator an aggravating factor in the determination of the sentence.
The reason was simple. There are about 2,000 assaults against bus operators across the country each year. The situation is dangerous and unacceptable. While some pointed to the fact that 2,000 assaults over two billion trips represented about 0.000001% assault per transit trip, everyone agreed, including the members of this committee, that assaulting a bus driver represented a serious public safety issue that needed to be addressed. It was a matter of public safety back then, and we're now back in front of you today with exactly the same consideration in mind, public safety.
Transit riders should feel confident that getting on a transit vehicle is safe. In fact, it is much safer than getting in a car. Our transit operators care deeply about their passengers. They have their safety in mind at every turn. They are well-trained, very professional, and they provide excellent service to our communities. There's no doubt, Mr. Chair, that the vast majority of our transit operators would never drive a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, there are cases where drivers or other employees perform their duties while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This information comes from the experience of the U.S. transport networks, where random tests are mandatory, as well as the recent program implemented by the Toronto Transit Commission.
While this is the exception and not the rule, the few cases of alcohol- or drug-impaired driving are a few too many. As I mentioned, it is not just about drivers of vehicles. When passengers take public transit, their safety also depends on the work of mechanics, supervisors, inspectors, engineers and managers, all of whom have a role to play in ensuring the safety of all public transportation operations.
In addition to public safety this issue is also a matter of workplace safety. It's management's responsibility to ensure transit employees are safe at all times. Transit systems involve heavy-duty machinery, safety sensitive duties, and no shortage of ways in which an impaired person could put their fellow workers at risk. While transit operations for the most part sit outside the federal government's purview, the government does have a role to play in providing clear leadership and an unambiguous direction on safety-related issues surrounding the legalization of cannabis, such as recommended by the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.
In addition to establishing clear mechanisms to allow for random alcohol and drug testing for safety sensitive positions under federal jurisdiction, the government needs to show leadership and work with provinces and territories to ensure the approach to public safety and safety sensitive positions as it relates to the use of cannabis and impairment in the workplace is consistent from coast to coast to coast.
I will now turn to my colleague from the TTC, Megan MacRae.
Good afternoon, and thank you for the invitation to speak to the honourable committee today on the very important issue of road safety, or in our case, workplace safety.
I'm here today because I have managed our fitness for duty program since 2011 and have spearheaded the implementation of our random testing program, which was introduced earlier this year. As well, I have been intricately involved with our ongoing labour arbitration and the various ongoing legal proceedings.
TTC has been working with various employers and employer associations, including CUTA, over the past year to draw attention to workplace safety concerns associated with the legalization of marijuana.
We believe the risk to employees and the public in our industry is currently understated and will only increase. We believe that the federal government has an important leadership role to play in ensuring appropriate mechanisms are in place to protect workplace and public safety in advance of July 2018. We call upon the federal government to lead the provinces by example through the introduction of mandatory workplace random drug and alcohol testing in safety sensitive industries.
Our workplaces, in many cases, are public roadways, and the actions of our employees, both front line and behind the scenes, impact public safety.
TTC has been engaged in lengthy and costly legal disputes for which there is no end in sight. We have not been alone. In our view, the time for legislation is long overdue. TTC introduced random testing on May 8 of this year, and in less than five months has had 16 positive drug tests—over 50% of these were for marijuana—five positive alcohol tests, and two refusals. This is in addition to safety sensitive flags and alcohol violation. These results have surprised us by being higher than even we anticipated.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice, in denying the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113's injunction to our random testing program, determined that our program will increase public safety. Justice Marrocco was satisfied, based on our evidence, that the safety of both our employees and the public outweighed any privacy concerns. Much of TTC's evidence went unchallenged by the union. The judge explicitly concluded, based on our expert evidence, that oral fluid testing for cannabis at the TTC cut-off level will detect persons whose cognitive and motor abilities are likely impaired at the time of testing.
Our experts and witnesses offered evidence showing that in other jurisdictions, such as the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, where random testing has been introduced in similar workplaces, the rate of positive tests have significantly decreased. We looked at the Colorado experience and showed the impact to usage and public safety.
TTC uses oral fluid technology for the most part. While the TTC is of the view that this technology is not sufficiently invasive so as to present privacy concerns, we respect this protected right and would submit that even if it were truly invasive, the right to safety for the public is greater than the slight inconvenience random testing could create for those subjected to it.
As I mentioned, TTC uses oral fluid technology, and based on our experts, there is sufficient evidence to support the notion that one can choose drug cut-off levels consistent with time frames related to recent use and likely impairment.
I have a variety of other figures to speak to, but in the interest of time, I will highlight simply that 163 people have declared a substance use disorder since our fitness for duty program was introduced in 2010. All of our post-incident tests have been for drugs, which is noteworthy because we believe it's indicative that the visual means by which one generally has to detect impairment are insufficient. We've had 216 positive results in certification and pre-employment testing. These are people who are looking for work and know they will be drug tested.
With that, I will pass the time on to my colleague, Brian Leck.
Good evening, Mr. Chair and honourable members.
On May 8 of this year, the TTC took the bold step of initiating random alcohol and drug tests for all safety sensitive positions, designated management positions, and executive positions. As a result, as Megan has alluded to, some 21 union members were found to have positive test results or refusals, people who would otherwise be out driving buses, subways, streetcars, in the busy streets of Toronto. Those people were undetected, unverified, unknown. What you don't know, you don't know. Random is the right way to deal with safety sensitive positions, particularly in the public transportation industry.
What TTC did was because it was the right thing to do, but I submit that it was the wrong way to do it. We have been involved in litigation for some six years with no end in sight. We're not through an arbitration process that began in 2011 and will be ongoing with, no doubt, judicial review, appeal to the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Maybe 10 years from now we'll get some decision. The problem with that is it's not at all proactive.
In every other western civilization, what it has taken is a horrific tragedy. In England, in London, there was a horrible subway crash that killed five people and injured 540 people as a result of someone being highly impaired by marijuana usage. Shortly following that, the government introduced legislative controls for random testing. Likewise in New York, a horrific accident. Likewise in Australia and in New Zealand. All these western democracies were reacting to situations that cried out for finally implementing random testing.
We're looking to leadership from the federal government to take the step, to set the bars, to set the requirements, to create consistency across the industry for all safety sensitive positions. Otherwise it will be a hodgepodge of different tests, different criteria, different arbitrators, different judges, all at different times coming to different conclusions at absolutely enormous expense to all of these companies, whether they're public sector or private sector. Inevitably, if it goes that way many families, many individuals, will suffer tragic consequences.
Thank you for your question. I'll limit my comments to my organization.
I know that other police chiefs are being quite vocal about that. I will definitely say that additional time would be helpful, as I've mentioned. That would permit us to be able to train more officers, given the amount of pressures that currently exist on police forces to train in a wide spectrum of competencies.
That said, I'll say again that, first, this is already an offence that we are enforcing today. We've stepped up training. We haven't been sitting idly by at all. We have stepped up training on both the SFST side and the DRE side, strategically locating them, and I'm quite certain that other police services are doing that. Also, then, we have a plan to train more before next year and then continuing on. I suppose part of it is that it's unclear as to what will happen when the bill or the law comes into force. We can expect, I suppose, based on other jurisdictions, that there will be increased usage.
The other part that I really want to highlight is the proactivity and positive engagement with communities. I am convinced that we can't enforce our way out of the problem that is impaired driving, whether by alcohol or drugs. The previous commissioner talked about how it would be our goal to make it socially unacceptable, just like lighting up a cigarette in a restaurant. I think that's how our campaign has to work. It has to work in that prevention mode, in that proactive engagement with community groups—as Ms. Thompson mentioned—such as MADD, CAA, licensed establishments, and schools, so that we're actually getting left of bang and reducing the number of people, rather than trying to simply enforce and to catch those who made that bad decision of consuming some substance and then driving.
You're very kind and have agreed to join us by video conference and I want to thank you both so much.
As you may have been told, I believe there is the possibility that we are going to be called away to vote at some point and we would like to at least get your opening statements in before. Then if you're able to come back for questions, it would be greatly appreciated, but let's at least get your opening statements in.
We are now joined as an individual by Professor Jan Ramaekers, who is joining us from Maastricht in the Netherlands. Welcome, Professor.
And we have Randy Goossen, who is a psychiatrist and is joining us from Winnipeg. Welcome, Dr. Goossen.
Thank you, both, so much for joining us.
I'll ask Professor Ramaekers to start.
I would like to perhaps focus on two parts of the bill. One aspect is the fact that DUIC, driving under the influence of cannabis, will become punishable. Canada is intending to install some per se limits to distinguish the level of penalties. I've seen the limits of two nanograms and five nanograms as the markers, basically, of where penalties should start.
This is an interesting area. Probably the first point I would like to make is that much of the science underlying the choices for thresholds in Europe, the U.S. and, I suspect, also in Canada is really based on what I would call experimental research. The only type of research that has been able to establish something like a dose- or concentration-effect relationship between THC impairment and the skills related to actual driving performance comes really from what people would call laboratory studies. Participants would be invited to undergo a driving test or perhaps a simulated driving performance, or take part in a number of neurocognitive tests where reaction times would be tested and attention performances and cognitive functions in general measured, all while they were under the influence of a single or an acute dose of cannabis. They either smoked it in the laboratory or used a vaporizer or other means of administration. These performances would then be compared with the performances of the same individuals but under placebo conditions—when they really did not smoke any cannabis at all.
This is a wonderful set-up. It allows you to also take blood samples at the time of actual impairment. Typically THC, as I'm sure you've all seen, has a very profound pharmacokinetic profile, which indicates that if people smoke, they reach peak levels of THC in the blood very rapidly, perhaps within five minutes. Depending on how much people actually smoke, it could go up to, say, 100 nanograms per millilitre. After five minutes, the curve would go down, also very rapidly—
The curve would also go down very rapidly, and within 60 minutes. Within one hour, the levels of THC could be below 10 nanograms, or even five nanograms.
This is all perfectly monitorable in a laboratory setting. It means that we have been able to link certain levels of impairment to certain levels of THC in blood, as well as in oral fluid. This works fine. All of the results that come from these studies will indicate two nanograms, for example, which is really the lower limit above which impairment levels become apparent.
If we want to transfer this knowledge to real life and practice, the levels that people like me are measuring in the laboratory are not necessarily identical to the levels that a policeman, for example, would observe, or a forensic laboratory when analyzing the blood samples. The main reason is that the blood samples after an actual crash are usually taken two hours, three hours, or even four hours after the accident occurred.
This is the big dilemma that we are facing right now. The levels that we measure are representative of the THC concentration at the time that the blood sample was taken, but not necessarily at the time of the actual crash. This is a bridge that we need to cross somehow. It is important to keep in mind that with the majority of people who will be involved in a crash for which a blood sample will be taken two hours, three hours, or even later, after the crash, the majority of these samples will show very low THC limits. They may be well below one nanogram, or below two nanograms. That does not necessarily mean that all of these drivers were negative or under the THC threshold at the time of the crash.
Right. I think I have already handed in a sheet of information so I'll jump right ahead.
I thank you, honourable Chair, for the privilege of speaking to you today.
I would like to point out a few things. As a psychiatrist, I've seen the devastating effects of substances on people's lives. As stated in my paper here, alcohol robs, and it's clear it really does impact people's lives in a way that wants to steal away all that is valuable to us. As well, sometimes there is a difficult component in walking that fine line between recognizing the illness and then having to manage the fallout that occurs when people's behaviours are not safe and they are drinking and driving. It does play a confrontational role sometimes, so much so that I've actually been taken to the college about reporting people. At one point I even had a death threat in regard to cannabis use.
My last point is that it's my hope that the committee remembers the ravages of addictive disorders as well and that intervention is imperative. I would ask that the honourable chair of the committee be reminded of the illness of addiction and recognize the importance for not only prevention and managing road safety, but also the promotion of recovery as it pertains to mental health, substance abuse, and treatment of both.
I have about four sections of the bill that I want to quickly go over. I'll spell them out clearly as I go through them.
Bill allows the testing for alcohol during any legal roadside stop. I believe special consideration needs to be made in reviewing whether police are given too much freedom to randomly stop any vehicle at will. Although I agree that there are liberties in this regard that should be explored and expanded upon, the parameters of stopping a vehicle randomly for roadside checks is no small matter and needs to be well defined, with the ramifications carefully reviewed.
I have some thoughts and recommendations in regard to Bill if it's passed.
First, I think the federal government should work with provincial governments to include a signature, where drivers who have passed their driver's test sign that they are aware they will be subject to random testing. It's not giving consent; it's simply stating you're fully aware that random testing comes with the privilege of being able to drive a vehicle. This will enhance their own and the public's safety. This would create a change of attitude to a more receptive attitude to the proposed change of roadside testing.
Second, although obvious, it needs to be stated that the privacy of individuals will be significantly impacted by random testing. I believe our police require further training to detect whether a driver is under the influence. To make the point, albeit quite extreme, I'm using the idea here that an animal control officer shouldn't need to stop every dog owner to see if they're walking a pit bull.
Third, given recent evidence of profiling of individuals within our country, careful consideration in giving police sweeping powers to stop and test individuals needs to be weighed against the potential that the bill may give licence to the intentional or the unintentional targeting of certain populations within our society.
The document “Legislative Background: reforms to the Transportation Provisions of the Criminal Code (Bill C-46)” points out some interesting facts. I think I've given you those on my printout. Although there has been a 65% reduction over 30 years of driving incidents, at the same time Canada is lagging in terms of safety. Bearing this in mind, if we are looking to make the most significant impact possible when it comes to road safety, is there a reason that the blood alcohol level is not lowered from 80 to 50? This would be in keeping with the gains that other countries have benefited from after making similar changes to their laws in lowering their blood alcohol thresholds.
If the bill should be passed, I would recommend that the testing proposed for drugs and alcohol should be equally allowed at the same time of random testing.
I would use the proposed subsection 253(3). As stated, there are three new offences for operation of conveyance while impaired by cannabis and other drugs. The bill criminalizes operation of a vehicle, depending on the driver's concentration of THC in the blood.
If two nanograms of THC is a punishable offence in proposed paragraph 253(3)(b) when using cannabis alone, would it not be most appropriate to keep the drug level the same for proposed paragraph 253(3)(c), which spells out the offence in which cannabis is combined with alcohol? Instead of 2.5 nanograms, keep it at two nanograms, especially when, in combination with alcohol, the impairment may be greater.
Although the testing for the presence—
Perhaps one issue that I would like to bring forward is that if you look at DUI statistics, the number of drivers who test positive for cannabis alone is really not very impressive. In Europe, it's really somewhere down to 3% or 4% at maximum. In the U.S. it's maybe twice as high. In Canada I'm not quite sure, but probably it's comparable to the U.S. But if you look at the percentage of drivers who are positive for THC as well as any other drug or alcohol, then we're actually looking at a more significant number of drivers that I think may even be a more important target for any DUI legislation than just the driver who is under the influence of marijuana per se.
Of course that's not unimportant, but from statistics you can actually say that the combination of cannabis and alcohol is actually much more common. What you've seen, at least in the scientific literature, is that any combination of cannabis and alcohol already increases drug impairment and increases crash risk.
My advice would actually be to copy some of the laws that have been installed in Europe that basically take a zero-tolerance position for any combination of cannabis and alcohol, independent of the actual concentration. Even with BACs below .05 and THC levels beyond five nanograms, the combination will always lead to a very significant increased crash risk. I see that, in your bill, there is an effort to also make a law for combined use of cannabis and alcohol, but it actually has lower limits. Anything above blood alcohol concentration of .05 is considered relevant.
I would argue that any combination, independent of the actual level of concentration, should be an offence. It would actually make more impact, because this is really the most frequent occurrence on the road.
Mr. Chair and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to present to you this evening on Bill . I'm a family physician and interim editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal
, of CMAJ Open
and the CMAJ
Just to be clear at the outset, I do not represent the views of the Canadian Medical Association or Joule, the subsidiary that owns CMAJ. CMAJ and the other journals within the CMAJ Group are editorially independent from their ownership.
I'd also like to be clear that I am not an expert in cannabis or on its effects on driving. I know that tonight you've had access to expertise and some of my fellow witnesses obviously have that kind of expertise. But I will bring you the perspective of a journal editor and a physician, as someone who assesses evidence for a living.
The mission of CMAJ, Canada's leading medical journal, is to champion knowledge that matters for the health of Canadians and for the rest of the world. Our vision is best evidence, best practice, best health.
That is why I am concerned about the two pieces of legislation, Bill and Bill , related to the legalization of cannabis, and why I wrote the CMAJ editorial, “Cannabis legislation fails to protect Canada’s youth,” that was published in May of this year. I've supplied you with copies. Ironically, I was in Amsterdam at the time it was published.
That so many Canadian young people and adults believe that cannabis is a benign substance is a failure. It is our failure, our failure of public education in this country. You see, we know that it's not a benign substance.
That many Canadian young people and adults believe that it is safe to drive under the influence of cannabis, some even believing that it improves their driving, is a failure. It's our failure, our failure of public education in this country. You see, we know that driving under the influence of cannabis is impaired driving.
That so many Canadian young people and adults use cannabis regularly is a failure, our failure, our failure of public education in this country. Yet we are about to embark on what I consider to be a national experiment, an experiment on our youth to see what happens when we legalize the use of marijuana.
That's why a bill, a bill like , the focus of this committee, is needed as a corollary to the cannabis act to counteract the possible increased rates of driving under the influence of cannabis as seen in other jurisdictions at least initially after legalization.
You see, as a journal editor, I worry about the research papers that will likely be submitted to CMAJ over the next years, papers that include graphs showing a dotted line vertically indicating when the cannabis act came into effect and showing an increase in cannabis use, an increase in citations for impaired driving, increased mental health issues among our youth, and perhaps even an increase in deaths related to motor vehicle accidents. That keeps me up at night. That's why I am here.
You see, any increase in the use of cannabis and any increase in impaired driving, even the most modest, after its legalization means that the legislation will have failed. This will indicate that the use of cannabis and its inherent risks are not really a concern, and that users believe that they have nothing to worry about. It will make clear our already evident inability to have communicated the dangers of cannabis effectively to the people, to the youth of Canada.
We are simply not ready.
By legalizing cannabis we are sending a message to the youth of Canada that its use is fine, that it is safe, but that's not the message the Canadian public needs to hear. While the cannabis act includes some provision for public education, Bill has no such specific provision.
On September 20, Health Canada issued a tender for a public health campaign specifically targeting Canadian young people. According to the tender this campaign will be designed to ensure that Canadians, especially youth, are well informed about the health and safety risks of cannabis use and about current laws. That campaign is not scheduled to be launched until December. Yet the Government of Canada intends to legalize access to cannabis no later than July 2018. This doesn't compute.
So it's half a year to completely change the thinking on cannabis for many Canadians nationwide, to change the thinking of the tow-truck driver I saw smoking cannabis in his truck on Merivale a few weeks ago, to change the thinking of the kids I saw standing on Bank Street in front of the cannabis clinic as I walked here this evening.
How long did it take before rates of smoking tobacco in Canada decreased? Decades. What did it take? It took a multi-year, multi-faceted, targeted approach involving all levels of government, simply to begin to make inroads.
For these bills to be successful, rates of cannabis use and rates of impaired driving should decrease after legalization. But that's not likely to happen. More likely, it will be the opposite. We are simply not ready.
Therefore, I urge you to work with your colleagues across the parties to slow all this down. There is no meaningful reason to legalize the use of cannabis this quickly.
Before this government considers moving forward with the legalization of cannabis, we need a robust, evidence-based public education campaign focusing on the health risks of cannabis, and a requirement in Bill for a campaign focused on educating the public, specifically on its effects on driving. We need to see these campaigns work before cannabis is legalized.
Rates of cannabis use and rates of impaired driving should demonstrably be seen to be decreasing in Canada before legalization. How would we know they have decreased? These campaigns must be accompanied by robust research programs that will assess the results before the cannabis act goes through.
Let me reiterate. Before this government considers moving forward with legalizing cannabis, we need to see a meaningful decrease that is both statistically significant and clinically significant in rates of use of cannabis and impaired driving as a result of these campaigns, not click-through rates, not page views, not likes or other measures of engagement with the campaigns. Those are intermediate outcomes only, and may not translate into behavioural change.
Rather, we need to see meaningful decreases in the actual rates of use of cannabis and impaired driving before legalization. Then and only then will we have a modest hope that what I consider to be a national experiment in legalizing cannabis will not irredeemably harm the people of Canada, particularly our youth.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
We have in the United States, as I'm sure you're aware, for many years now been altering, on a state level, our legal prohibitions about marijuana. We have quite a few states that have passed measures authorizing what's called medical marijuana use. Some of them contain very few restrictions. We've had some jurisdictions decriminalize the use of marijuana, and as you know, now we have eight jurisdictions that have legalized recreational use of marijuana. We are confronting a sea change, and I think the expectations are this will continue over the next few election cycles.
I work in our Department of Transportation, in our road safety organization. I have focused on impaired driving for over 35 years now, on alcohol and drugs, a specialty of mine. We like to be evidence-based.
What can I say about marijuana and driving? I think there is ample evidence from laboratory research, driving simulators, in-vehicle research on closed courses, and even in traffic that marijuana has the potential to impair driving-related skills. It is a psychotropic drug, that's why many people use it recreationally, so I think there's no question it impairs driving. Certainly it does not make one a safer driver, so it's not a good thing from a road safety point of view.
Our ability to actually talk a bit about the crash risk of driving under the influence of marijuana is quite limited at this point in time because of the complexities in conducting that type of research. I know there's a tremendous desire for someone to come up with an impairment level for marijuana, and that really is just not feasible at this time. It's not clear if it will ever be feasible that you will have an analog to blood alcohol concentration or breath alcohol concentration.
People are all very familiar with the alcohol model. It really does not apply much to many other drugs, whether they're prescription or illegal drugs, and it does not apply to THC, where you do not get a correlation with the psychoactive ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. You can measure blood levels, you can measure oral fluid levels, but you do not see this nice correlation between blood or oral fluid levels and impairment that you see with alcohol.
It is certainly reasonable and feasible for police officers to detect marijuana-impaired drivers, and arrest them, and prosecute them. As I always try to point out to people in our country, research we've done shows that many people in the U.S. refuse to take a BAC test. In many states they have that right, and it may result in the suspension or revocation of the driver's licence. It's almost approaching 25% of the people arrested for alcohol-impaired driving who don't take a BAC test, and the vast majority of those are prosecuted, and successfully. We've compared cases where there is a BAC available to the prosecution, with cases where there isn't, and it results almost in identical conviction rates between them.
The fact that you don't have an equivalent to BAC is not a bar to the successful prosecution. It's important that police receive training in detecting. They need to know how to recognize signs of marijuana impairment. They have to be trained in careful observations and note-taking.
I will agree with the witness who preceded me, Ms. Kelsall. I do think that when you legalize a substance like marijuana, people get a very positive impression, and they think it's safe. They do not realize—just like with alcohol, which is a legal substance—that it's not safe to drive impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or many other psychoactive drugs. It's critically important as part of legalization that the public be informed that impaired driving is impaired driving, whether it's by a legal or illegal substance. There is a lot of education that needs to be done.
I know there is a lot of interest in these oral fluid drug-screening devices. I do think those would probably be useful for law enforcement. I know that in most of the United States there are tremendous backlogs in conducting drug tests. This is a real disincentive for law enforcement to get a blood sample, send it off to a lab, and wait for months—sometime three, four, five, six months—to get a test result. The available evidence right now seems to show that screening devices are fairly accurate. They're not of the same quality as what we would call evidential tests—qualitative tests done at a laboratory—but they seem to be fairly accurate. I would expect to see their use increase over time. I am hopeful that there will be proper testing of these devices before their use becomes too widespread. There have been some studies done to date, but most of those have been funded by the manufacturers, which, of course, are very interested in marketing their devices.
At that point, I'll just stop and welcome any questions you might have.
Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the committee, my name is Chris Halsor. I am a Colorado lawyer and a former 14-year prosecutor. Just so you guys have background on me, I was a line deputy district attorney who tried cases. I've tried everything from off-leash dogs to first-degree murder. I did that job for eight years and then I became Colorado's first traffic safety resource prosecutor. In essence, I was charged with the responsibility of training law enforcement personnel and prosecutors about all things to do with impaired driving.
I began that job in 2008. In about 2009 medical marijuana really took off in Colorado, which has developed a reputation as the epicentre of legal marijuana. I was a first-hand observer of all of that. I participated in and oversaw legislation that went through our state legislature. I was a sitting member on one of the regulatory committees that dealt with edibles, packaging, and serving. And I was a substitute member dealing with growing caps. Over the five or six years that I was the traffic safety resource prosecutor in Colorado, I developed an expertise in legal marijuana overall and, more specifically, in marijuana-impaired driving.
In 2014, I jumped ship and formed my own company called Understanding Legal Marijuana. Now, what I mainly do is travel the United States. I have in fact been to Canada a couple of times to offer training, speak at conferences, and basically share my knowledge with other people. In addition, in September 2015, I created a class on marijuana DUI investigations in which I host something I call a “green lab”. We get volunteers to come in—not my law enforcement students, mind you—to dose on marijuana so that my police officers have an opportunity to see people actually under the influence of marijuana and perform roadside tests such as a standardized field sobriety test.
That has led to many things. I am speaking to you right now from Nevada because voters in Nevada passed a recreational marijuana ballot. Beginning in January of this year, the Nevada attorney general's office hired me as a contract lawyer to serve their state in a capacity similar to the position I previously held as a rural traffic safety resource prosecutor. I feel that I can offer the committee a substantial amount of expertise in this area. I don't want to take an advocacy position, but I am happy to answer any questions.
There are obviously some differences between Canada and the United States. One of the severe limitations in the United States, which has already been alluded to, is that in the U.S. marijuana is illegal federally, yet the states have largely been permitted to run their own marijuana systems without interference from the federal government. This has set up some difficult questions concerning public safety. It is difficult, for example, to answer questions concerning impairment and toxicology because our federal system requires an application process involving several federal agencies just to conduct a human study on marijuana. Where such an application is granted, researchers would be provided access to marijuana from the only legal source permitted for federal studies in the United States, namely, the University of Mississippi. However, the marijuana produced at the University of Mississippi grossly understates the typical THC levels of medical and recreational marijuana available in states where the drug is legal.
In addition to that, we cannot conduct studies concerning...just for smoked THC, but there is almost no research when it comes to edibles. Nor is there any research to the best of my knowledge concerning concentrated marijuana. I apologize; I have not kept up with all the legislation that is taking place in front of Parliament, so I can't speak to any details.
That being said, when it comes to determinations of whether there is a nanogram level, as some of the previous witnesses have testified, the scientific literature suggests that this is a question we cannot resolve right now.
Understanding that a per se level legislation makes things easier, I would suggest to you that there a number of things to contemplate and consider with legalization moving forward, at least in the context of impaired driving.
One is going to be training for law enforcement. Certainly, that is going to have to be a significant investment. I would assert to you that the methods that have been developed over decades for detecting alcohol have served as the template for detecting drugs. While some of those things are certainly relevant and applicable to the detection of marijuana-impaired driving, it's not as sensitive in some areas. Additional research would be helpful. Additional tools and training for law enforcement officers, basically to be trained in more advanced techniques, would be necessary.
Further, there was a discussion of oral fluid devices. Obviously, I was not tuned in to listen to the previous panel and what you heard. My understanding and knowledge of this is that the best oral fluid testing devices will test delta-9-THC, the active impairing ingredient. However, that is only in saliva, and there is no correlation to blood. The value of these is that they will indicate that the person recently had THC in them.
It's a huge challenge, because I think that going forward, what people aspire to do is to have a system like we have for alcohol. That includes having these devices we can use, and having a number we can definitively point to and say, “Yes, they are impaired.”
However, I think that going forward, the marijuana question is much more challenging. What I have been doing in the last two years in particular is trying to teach law enforcement prosecutors that you have to prove impairment, and impairment with marijuana is different than with alcohol.
Public perception is going to drive a lot of this. Regardless of what the scientists and experts say, your general public may just latch onto the conventional things they find and discover, such as, “Well, it's not as bad as alcohol,” and for part of your population, “I drive better high.”
I think there are going to have to be resources that come to bear if Canada goes forward with legalization, and tracking the data becomes a critical component. That's something that law enforcement agencies and other people who are recording this may not be equipped for. Is there money for that?
Furthermore, in terms of fatalities, when people do die on Canadian roads, are there rules and requirements for what is required in an autopsy? What are they testing for? Can we make corollaries as to whether they only had the presence of marijuana in their systems, or did they have the presence of something like delta-9-THC?
I could go on and on. I understand that my time is limited, so I will stop right there and certainly entertain any questions.
Thank you, Mr. Rankin. That's a lot to unpack.
I would say to you that I think the United States and Canada, in terms of impaired driving training, operate fairly parallel. For a police officer who is going through a basic training program to become a police officer will typically receive a 24-hour training in the standardized field sobriety tests. They are the three tests that are employed as basic alcohol impairment detection methods: horizontal gaze, nystagmus, walk and turn, one-leg stand. That's the standard basis, and your average patrol officer will have that training.
Within the last 10 years a new training has been developed. Its acronym is ARIDE. It's a 16-hour training that is a bridge training between the basic program and the much more advanced drug recognition expert program. Typically, it helps law enforcement officers identify seven different categories of drugs. Those seven categories are largely taken from the drug recognition expert program which, of course, is the most advanced training.
Drug recognition experts are very good at what they do. They are typically a very small percentage of the entire police force. They're good at what they do, but there aren't that many of them, in part because their curriculum is incredibly challenging. It's very difficult not only to become a DRE but to maintain your DRE status. There are different levels of police officers. Can you have a police officer who is trained in the basic SFSTs identify a marijuana-impaired driver? Yes, you can, but there are also degrees of impairment.
When I run my green lab classes, we have people who put on varying degrees of impairment. The difficult thing with marijuana impairment is that a lot of the deficits are mental, not physical. I'm guessing most of us can sit here and imagine how drunks present themselves. They'll have a lot of physical manifestations of that. The panel can ask themselves, what does a high person look like? I suppose if you've seen one you could try to put it into words, but I pose this question to my police officers all over the country and they struggle with it. Proving marijuana cases is often proving mental impairment, and that's a much taller task.
I want to start with putting some facts on the record.
In a letter that comes from the Governor of Colorado and the Attorney General of Colorado to the Honorable Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States, it was clear that in 2016 after the national survey on drug use and health, there was:
...no statistically significant change in marijuana use among Colorado's youth since 2007-08. In fact, the most recent report indicated that between 2013-14 and 2015-2016, the period in which adult-use marijuana businesses opened their doors, youth marijuana use declined by 12%.
Also there was no increase in use by adolescents of eighth, 10th, or 12th grades following legalization.
I also think it's important to note for Mr. Halsor—and this is for the record:
In the first six months of 2017, the number of drivers the Colorado State Patrol considered impaired by marijuana dropped 21 percent compared to the first six months of 2016.
The letter goes on to say that, while this is encouraging, they are going to continue to do their facts.
So, Mr. Halsor, you said that the number of people pulled over by police in Colorado increased in that period. The Attorney General and the Governor say otherwise, a 21% reduction. So I think it's important for us, if we're going to talk about data and facts, that we get our facts correct.
Dr. Kelsall, are you aware that in 2016 your journal published an article that said, very clearly, that public health experts urge realistic pot laws. They brought together 100 people from the Canadian Public Health Association. They asked the federal government to have some of the most restrictive legalization and regulatory frameworks in the world because, in their words, what we had been doing as a country for the last 40 years has not been working and we have the highest incidence of students and young people abusing cannabis. They urged us to have a system that would tightly control this and that wouldn't have the same kind of trade-offs that we had in the alcohol system.
I'll give you an example. I'm quoting the article from 2016:
Portugal’s National Drugs Coordinator Dr. João Castel-Branco Goulão noted that decriminalization of all drugs in 2001 allowed his country to refocus on harm prevention and addiction treatment, while freeing up police resources to hunt criminal “big sharks.”
We've stayed way off tonight and we're into territory. So let's have some C-46 territory tonight. Dr. Kelsall, do you think in this framework that we proposed with C-46, interlock devices will keep repeat offenders off the roads, and would that keep people more safe?