HALIFAX – A lawyer for a Nova Scotia motorist whose license was suspended following her saliva tested constructive for cannabis says his firm will use the case to launch a constitutional challenge of Canada’s revamped impaired driving laws.
Jack Lloyd says Michelle Gray’s case shows the law is as well broad and as well vague, primarily since she was penalized even although police testing later determined she was not impaired.
“The argument is that you are going to be obtaining folks drop their liberty—Michelle was arrested and her individual liberty was taken away from her—and it turned out that she was not guilty of something,” Lloyd mentioned in an interview Thursday.
“The government’s concern (about cannabis) is overzealous and that is resulting in harms and loss of liberty for folks like Michelle, who are law-abiding and would in no way dream of driving though impaired.”
Gray utilizes medically authorized cannabis to treat symptoms of many sclerosis.
“It’s alarming that these folks have so considerably energy, so considerably leeway to use it at their personal discretion,” she mentioned, referring to the RCMP.
Gray mentioned she told police conducting a roadside verify in January she had 1 alcoholic drink more than a two-hour period prior to she got in her car or truck to drive from downtown Halifax to her dwelling in suburban Middle Sackville.
Even though Gray passed a roadside alcohol test, a subsequent saliva test showed trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
She was arrested and taken to police headquarters, exactly where she was subjected to a 12-step Drug Recognition Specialist Evaluation, which involves balance and memory tests.
“Balance is an challenge with my MS… (and) I do have a lot of cognitive concerns with quick-term memory,” mentioned Gray, adding that she repeatedly reminded the officers about her health-related situation.
“During this entire time, my life is flashing prior to my eyes. I was worried about acquiring charged and fined.”
But that didn’t occur.
Police told her she had passed the tests, which proved she was not impaired.
Nevertheless, the benefits from the initial saliva test prompted police to suspend her license for a week and impound her car—leaving her with a $400 bill. She also missed 4 days of perform.
On Thursday, the RCMP admitted to generating an error, confirming that Gray’s license really should have been suspended for only 24 hours as an alternative of a week.
Gray mentioned the Mounties told her all RCMP officers in the province would now be warned against generating comparable errors. She mentioned she appreciated the Mounties’ assessment of her case, but it is not the police she’s difficult.
“I’m upset with our government for placing me in this position… The police do not create bills and pass them. The government does,” she mentioned.
Tom Singleton, who has practiced criminal law for 25 years in Halifax, mentioned the dilemma is that the tests police use are as well subjective. As properly, traces of THC can stay in the physique for up to a week following somebody utilizes it.
“Yet, the mere presence of cannabis in your physique would enable the police to suspend your license… There’s way as well considerably authority offered to police officers … Folks do not comprehend how draconian some of this stuff is.”
The roadside saliva tests, which need a machine known as the Drager DrugTest 5000, had been introduced by the federal government in August.
Recommendations on low-threat cannabis use endorsed by the Canadian Health-related Association and other overall health organizations say folks really should not drive for at least six hours following making use of cannabis. But the wait time can be longer, based on the user and the way the THC is consumed.
As properly, these who use cannabis consistently are recognized to create a tolerance to the drug, which suggests their impairment would be complicated to gauge by way of drug testing.
Lloyd, a Toronto-primarily based lawyer with an experience in cannabis, mentioned his firm plans to file a legal challenge below Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which offers with life, liberty and the safety of the particular person.
He mentioned lawyers across the nation are contemplating comparable situations.
“The circumstance Michelle was in may well occur a lot more regularly in some provinces, but it is doable everywhere,” he mentioned.
Below the new law, a driver’s license can be suspended and their car or truck impounded in some provinces if tests show at least .two nanograms of THC in a saliva sample.
“That limit has no rational connection to actual impairment,” Lloyd mentioned.
“Nevertheless, folks are becoming accused of this and their autos are becoming taken away… And in the finish, they’ll have a police officer inform them they’re not guilty rather than a court of law.”