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Alberta RCMP aim to train more officers on drug-impaired driving

Last Updated Oct 12, 2018 at 4:10 pm MST

(Alberta RCMP)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Cannabis legalization is only days away across Canada, but the question remains: are police ready?

Amid concerns that legalization will result in a rise in people driving high, Alberta RCMP are putting more focus on the matter.

“We are on track to reach a target goal to train one-third of members in standard field sobriety testing by 2020,” said Constable Mike Hibbs.

Ongoing classes are happening frequently, involving officers from all areas of the province, and Hibbs said they have made significant inroads on that plan.

A demonstration was also held on Friday at the RCMP K-Division headquarters in Edmonton, where they detailed the process at a checkstop.

At the moment, detecting a high driver is similar to tests for suspected drunk drivers.

“The one-legged stand, walk the line and doing the eye movements as well. Once they’ve failed that, then we move on to a drug recognition expert who continues the testing to verify the drug that the person is using,” added Hibbs.

This is still unfamiliar ground for many officers, and the techniques will continue to evolve as the legal cannabis regime sets in around the country.

The training classes are also aimed at increasing the familiarity with cannabis use, including the use of subjects displaying the typical effects. There will be growing pains, but the hope is around 1,000 members will be more than ready for the task.

“And be able to use these techniques as clearly as they use techniques for detecting alcohol. So yeah, the more we use it, the better we are going to get at it,” said Hibbs.

Albertans can also expect some more checkstops on the highways immediately after legalization, and continuing to increase as we approach the holiday season.