UPDATE – new article via this link
So, the police are looking to introduce an oral swab that will detect cannabis/drug use in drivers and are hoping to put the legislation in place to make this law before the end of the year. This could have very serious consequences for all of us law abiding criminals who take cannabis in one form or another. I have to wonder if this could be the governments’ most effective counter to cannabis use in the UK to date. Following the farce of making cannabis a Class B drug, then Class C and then back to Class B again, we thought these monkeys were never going to get their act together and make an effective deterrent.. Well it looks like that’s all changing.
I suppose that cannabis users collectively now have to start looking at our little ménage a trois relationship we have with ourselves, our cannabis and our cars. We all know that we can’t currently be tested for cannabis use when we’re stopped at the roadside – we also know that a lot of smokers will smoke and drive because of this. I’ve known a lot of people who will smoke, what I consider to be quite heavily while they are driving but they still seem to be very safe drivers, not seeming different from drivers that don’t smoke.
However, my personal choice is that I don’t like driving while I’m stoned and I don’t like being stoned while I’m driving. Because of this I treat taking cannabis and driving in the same manner that I treat drinking and driving, I just don’t do it. Also, I’ve always had a fear in the back of my mind that if I was driving stoned and a kid ran out in front of me that, could my being stoned cause me to be that split second late on the brakes, the split second between that kids life and death. Well, that’s a choice each individual makes as to whether they smoke cannabis and drive, but it looks like we’ll have other considerations to take into account pretty soon before we carry on “building one for the road”.
The Police have suggested that the swab will detect any cannabis use for the previous seven days, this raises the obvious question of “If I have a spliff on a Friday night am I ok to drive the following Friday a week later?” We all, of course know that the answer is yes……unless it’s one of those obscenely huge spliffs we’ve all seen on Youtube at one time or another. Currently, as the law stands the Police have to show that the cannabis you have taken impairs your ability to drive to get a conviction. There was one very tragic case of a young girl being killed by a driver under the influence of cannabis but as the police only tested him nine hours after the incident they couldn’t prove that the cannabis had affected his driving and he was only charged for careless driving. So, to get round this the Police are looking at changing the law to be able to convict on a positive test regardless of when a person actually took the cannabis and whether or not it is still affecting them.
There is no need for this as I had a friend who was in the armed forces and had once been stationed in Holland. After their leave, they all had to have a mandatory drug test when returning to base. As they were being tested one of the guys said to the testers “What would happen if I’d been in an environment where cannabis was being smoked and I’d inhaled the smoke but not wilfully smoked a joint?” The tester replied that they could tell if the person they were testing had been in an environment where cannabis had been smoked but their test was sufficiently sensitive to differentiate between passive and shall we say, active cannabis smoking. This raises the question of whether the Police are trying to check if a persons’ driving is impaired or are they just looking for a positive result. The Police have said that they would only use the swab test if someone who appeared inebriated but had not tested positive for alcohol. They would then swab test them for drugs. But how long will it be before people are tested at the scene of an accident, no matter how minor? And after that, how long before the drink and drug tests come in pairs, never one without the other?