Company looks to sell roadside cannabis test
OTTAWA — The company behind the second machine that could be approved for roadside drug tests in Canada says its product is faster and easier to use for police wary about the technology.
Six months after the federal government legalized cannabis for recreational use, officers have expressed wariness about the one testing machine currently approved, called the Drager DrugTest 5000, and how its results might hold up in court.
In an interview, two officials from the company Abbott say their testing device, the “SoToxa,” has shown it can accurately use a saliva sample to test for drugs in a person’s system within five minutes and works in cold weather.
The company stressed that the device is an optional tool for police forces to use if they want to test for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, before officers go through additional steps required to charge someone under Canada’s drug-impaired driving law.
“This helps identify the presence of possibly THC and or other drugs and allows it as a presumptive test, an extra point for the officer to say, OK, now I’m going to take the next step and maybe go ahead and arrest the person and take a blood sample and do the normal procedure,” said Christine Moore, Abbott’s chief toxicologist.
The handheld device is now in a 30-day public review period after the government posted its intention to allow police to use the device.
The notice went public on April 20 – the date when cannabis activists host 4-20 events – and says the SoToxa, its associated test cartridge and device for collecting oral fluid, when used together, would be considered “approved drug screening equipment” under Canadian law.
“An oral fluid sample that tests positive would presumptively confirm the presence of the drug,” the post said.