OTTAWA – The federal government is set to approve a second roadside drug detection device for roadside saliva tests to determine marijuana impairment.

According to a Department of Justice order published recently in the Canada Gazette, the government is proposing to amend the list of approved drug screening equipment to add the device called SoToxa.

Specifically, the government is looking to expand the list of approved equipment to include three pieces of SoToxa equipment intended to be used together: The main SoToxa device itself, as well as the test cartridge and oral fluid collection device.

This equipment is to be used to detect THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

“Approval of the SoToxa™, the Abbott SoToxa™ Test Cartridge and the Abbott SoToxa™ Oral Fluid Collection Device, when used together, as ‘approved drug screening equipment,’ would permit its use by law enforcement. A positive result would be a strong indication of recent use,” the order reads.

An independent committee comprised of forensic toxicologists — called the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science — evaluated the SoToxa and has recommended the drug screen be approved by Attorney General David Lametti. It is currently in the midst of a 30-day public consultation window, and the device has yet to be approved. Should it be granted the go-ahead, it will give police forces across Canada a second choice for testing potentially drug-impaired drivers.

The federal government has already approved the Dräger DrugTest 5000 to be used by police at the roadside to test for both THC and cocaine, despite some concerns about its functionality, including its efficacy in cold weather. Until now it’s been the only option law enforcement has had under the legalized marijuana regime.

The authorization to use these kinds of devices came as part of Bill C-46, the impaired driving legislation that passed along Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which sets up the legal regime for recreational marijuana.

Bill C-46 changed impaired driving laws to give police new powers to conduct roadside intoxication tests, including oral fluid drug tests, and makes it illegal to drive within two hours of being over the legal limit. If a person fails the roadside oral test, they are to be taken in for additional testing. Failing an oral roadside test is not a criminal offence, nor can the results be used in court. A blood test is required to determine legal impairment.