New Brunswick

Codiac RCMP see no spike in impaired drivers since cannabis became legal

Codiac RCMP Supt. Tom Critchlow says it's "so far, so good" for policing since the legalization of recreational cannabis raised the possibility of more impaired drivers on the road.

Enforcement going well so far, superintendent says

Codiac RCMP Supt. Tom Critchlow says he'd like police to have more drug recognition experts. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

Codiac RCMP Supt. Tom Critchlow says it's "so far, so good" for policing since the legalization of recreational cannabis raised the possibility of more impaired drivers on the road.

Cannabis was legalized across Canada on Oct. 17.

Critchlow said not much has changed in the last 3½ weeks.

This is not something that just sort of popped up as a result of Oct. 17.- Tom Critchlow , Codiac  Regional RCMP superintendent

"We haven't seen any evidence of a spike of impaired drivers who were under the influence of marijuana and even the number of people illegally smoking in public, for example," Critchlow said.

Critchlow said the Codiac regional detachment is still gathering data and doesn't have exact numbers.

But he said the impact so far is not what many people expected.

"It's not an epidemic as perhaps some had forecasted," he said. "However, I always take the measured approach, and we're focusing on the impaired driving and having our members trained and having that ability to respond on a daily basis."

Right now, there are five drug recognition experts, trained in Jacksonville, Fla., to look at things such as physical behaviour and psychological indicators that people on drugs display.

The five drug recognition experts available to the Codiac RCMP were trained in Florida in how to detect signs of impairment from drugs, Critchlow says. (CBC News )

Critchlow said additional courses are coming up and he would like to see more officers trained.

"We'd like to have a little more horsepower in that area," he said.

"It's one of those things no different than having technicians … breath technicians, if there's an impaired driver by alcohol and having that ability, calling somebody in."

Critchlow said that ideally, he'd like to see a trained drug recognition expert or two on any given shift, so that the force wouldn't have to call someone in on overtime.

As for stopping impaired drivers, Critchlow said that's nothing new.

"This is not something that just sort of popped up as a result of Oct. 17. We've been enforcing drug impaired driving for a number of years, and the [drug recognition] program has been around for a while."

While there hasn't been a noticeable increase in impaired drivers, he said the force is putting more emphasis on traffic enforcement.

"Logic would dictate that that number could go up because you're checking more people," he said. "So it's finding that balance between being able to work on each of the priorities and delivering."

About the Author

Kate Letterick

Reporter

Kate Letterick is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.