Drug testing to net cannabis users

President of the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, Michael Balderstone, says new random roadside drug testing will have a drift net effect, snaring anyone who has used cannabis within 60 days prior to the test. Speed, ecstasy and THC (cannabis) are the drugs that will be screened for when the drug testing comes into force in November.

Cannabis is fat soluble and stays in the body much longer than any other drug, he said. Its all or nothing. Theres no 0.05 like there is with alcohol.

However, Police Minister Carl Scully claimed only recent drug use would be detected by the testing devices, which would meet stringent criteria on accuracy and reliability.

Initially there will be just one drug testing truck for the whole of NSW, and 5000 motorists will be tested in the first year.

An initial saliva test will show whether any drugs are present, and a positive result will require a second test in a roadside testing truck with a more sophisticated and calibrated machine.

Richmond crime prevention officer, Michael Hogan, said it was envisaged that eventually all police cars would have the drug testing kits and all major police stations would have the portable drug testing machines.

Policing across Australia is now rolling out drug testing because the technology is allowing us to do that, he said. Ten years ago we never had this ability.

However, Michael Balderstone said just because cannabis was detected it didnt necessarily mean motorists were stoned while driving.

Half the Nimbin population would register, he said. Whether that means you had a joint four days ago or four hours ago. Its got the potential to catch a lot of cannabis users. This is going to have huge consequences for people. Losing your licence, thats huge.

Senior Constable Hogan said as far as he knew there was no four-hour limit in terms of drug detection as it would all depend on the speed with which the body metabolised the drug.

If you come up with a positive reading, you have failed the test and you will be charged, he said.

Mr Balderstone said it was extraordinary that police werent going to be testing for cocaine or heroin and the policy could lead to people switching to more dangerous drugs.

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