Cannabis Primer, Part 2

Marc Lefebvre talks about roadside testing for cannabis impairment. (Runtime: 2 min, 16 sec)

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Marc Lefebvre of the Insurance Bureau of Canada tells brokers what they need to know about roadside tests for cannabis impairment.

Check out Cannabis Primer Part 1.

Related Article: Questions abound about testing for cannabis impairment


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Text Transcript

Marc Lefebvre, underwriting coordinator, legal services, at Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The issues that will come up in regard to testing for cannabis impairment are just that we have the ability to test right now for the presence of an illegal drug within saliva—whether that be cannabis or any other type of illegal drug. What it doesn’t do is it does not detect the level of impairment, and that’s going to be the biggest challenge to law enforcement.

To convict anybody of driving while impaired—whether it be by drugs or alcohol, there is a huge difference, and the challenge for law enforcement with cannabis is that we don’t have a test that will detect the level of impairment. What it will detect is the presence of the drug, but it will not detect a level of intoxication.

What the government is doing to counter this is they’re spending $80 million to train law enforcement into what they refer to as drug recognition experts. In some jurisdictions, they refer to them as drug recognition evaluators, as the term expert holds a specific meaning to the courts.

But at the same time, it is a test that is prone to false positives, because it is all based upon the officer’s observations. So it can end up being a rather subjective test, and, quite frankly, there are eight U.S. states that have now banned the use of drug recognition experts or drug recognition evaluators, due to false positives.

So, will premiums rise due to an increase in impaired driving infractions? I don’t think we can speculate—or, we cannot speculate—on what would happen to premiums.

But certainly, as with any type of driving conviction—especially a driving under the influence conviction, whether it be alcohol or now, for cannabis—it will result in a change of rating and, certainly, it would result in an increase in premium, just as it would for somebody convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

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