Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to present some information to the committee. I applaud the committee and the work of the government in the changes being made with Bill C-46.
This brings up three areas of comment. The first is related to proposed subsection 320.27(1), which in part requires “reasonable grounds” in order to require a drug test. The test for reasonable grounds has had its day in court for many years for alcohol testing, since the mid-seventies. Of course, the courts are filled with cases where this comes forward. I would recommend, in the case of proposed subsection 320.27(1), that instead, proposed subsection 320.27(2) be expanded to include mandatory drug screening through the use of oral fluid screening devices. There is a 10-year history of this type of case law in Australia, with a very effective program countrywide.
The second thing I wish to draw your attention to is proposed paragraph 320.28(2)(b), which requires “samples of blood” for subsequent analysis in the case of drugs of use. Once again, if one draws upon the information historically and throughout the world, samples of saliva are well known. In fact, there is very good data to support the use of saliva samples, oral fluid, instead of blood. It's easy and it's reliable.
We have a chart in the presentation, which will be shown later on, that illustrates the work of Drs. Huestis and Cone from 2004. It has been replicated many times, and shows that oral fluid for THC mimics the concentration of that drug compound in blood from a few minutes after smoking. The oral contamination of the cannabis is removed from the oral cavity quickly, and one sees a track of oral THC with blood. The same occurs very well with many other drugs, but THC was of interest.
The third issue is with regard to proposed paragraph 320.28(4)(a), which enables the collection of a biological sample of “oral fluid or urine”. I would propose that “urine” be struck from this part of the bill, because urine is useful in post-mortem cases. We wish to deal with living drivers. Urine is a collection of what has been—past tense. The drug that you're interested in could have been there from days, weeks, or even months ago. It has not very good evidential value for a criminal or even a provincial case. Again, I would recommend that “urine” be removed there.
As a background to these statements, particularly for THC, we know that the drug recognition experts have been involved in the United States, and more recently in Canada, with the apprehension and prosecution of drug-impaired drivers, whereas in many other places in the world, notably in Europe and Australia, the use of oral fluids has been the predominant choice. If we look at, in the case of THC, the time course of occurrence, we see that within minutes of smoking a joint, or a cigarette containing a modest amount of cannabis, one can peak well into 140 to 150 nanograms per millilitre of THC in the blood. Then you'll see the time course where it drops to less than 20% of its peak within an hour. Within two or three hours, there's relatively little left in the body to be detected. So if one is relying solely on field sobriety tests and the work of DREs, one is limiting the opportunity to collect evidence at the roadside.
Again, in Europe and in Australia, which have been doing this for 10 years or more, oral fluid is used, and the apprehension of drugged drivers is very predominant.
We can look, further, at the work of another researcher. This is in the United States, where one is looking at the frequency of occurrence of THC in blood samples collected after a DRE examination. One can see that fully 70% of the samples have little evidentiary value. They're below five micrograms per litre, post-collection. This is a blood sample collected after a DRE examination. It's very difficult.
If one is reviewing the legislation currently with the inclusion of drugs with alcohol, one would like to use what has been gained over the past 50 years with breath alcohol testing in Canada. Alcohol is very different from THC and vice versa. Alcohol is water soluble. It distributes through the body. Its effects are proportional to the concentration of alcohol.
THC is not that way. THC is fat soluble. It attaches to the lipid molecules in the body and is resident in the brain for a longer period of time than its concentration in the blood. One has to be quick about determining the drug-impaired driving at the roadside, collect a sample for evidentiary value, and then move onwards.
As for the collection of oral fluid, as I mentioned, it's very simple. The devices are well known. It's as simple as a kit such as this. To collect a sample, that's it. A simple swab of the tongue, and it's done. You press the button, and the test starts. The results are known in five minutes. That's an oral fluid test.
For confirmatory testing, there are commercially available kits on the market being used extensively in countries such as Australia, which use oral fluid as the secondary sample for evidentiary value. It's collection is as simple as a sucker. Put it in the person's mouth. Hold it there for a few minutes. The end turns blue. You have your sample. You take it and put it in a vial, wrap it, mark it for evidential value, and there you are. It's a simple procedure to use oral fluid.
My recommendations are that we use mandatory alcohol and drug screening at the roadside; that we concentrate on the use of oral fluids in addition to blood, because blood is already in the Criminal Code for alcohol offences; that we don't limit the police officers at the roadside with the requirement of reasonable suspicion, which we know is going to be problematic in the courts.