Russia: The prosecution requires nine and a half years in prison against the American basketball player Griner
© Evgenia Novozhenina Basketball star Brittney Griner, pursued for possession of cannabis, in the accused's box in Khimki court near Moscow , on August 4, 2022 the Russian prosecution requested Thursday nine and a half years in prison against the American basketball star Brittney Griner, owned in Russia for accusations of cannabis trafficking, in full tensions between Moscow and Washington.
YELLOWKNIFE — RCMP in the Northwest Territories have begun using roadside cannabis-screening technology that has faced criticism from defence lawyers elsewhere in Canada. © Provided by The Canadian Press
Mounties in the territory announced late last month that they had deployed devices designed to take a saliva sample and test for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. They said the technology would help them detect impaired drivers and make roads safer.
But some criminal defence lawyers have raised concerns about these devices' ability to deliver reliable test results, particularly in cold temperatures. They argue the technology isn’t effective at determining whether someone is impaired.
Parliamentary committee to begin study of RCMP's use of cellphone spyware
OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee will begin exploring the RCMP’s use of spyware on Monday, diving deeper into an issue that's sounded alarms for privacy and civil liberties groups across the country. The House of Commons ethics and privacy committee called for a summer study after the RCMP revealed its use of tools that covertly obtain data from devices like phones and computers. In response to a written question tabled in the House of Commons in June, the RCMP disclosed it had obtained warrants to use tools that collect text messages and emails and can remotely turn on cameras and microphones in 10 investigations.
“It can lead to people being arrested who are actually innocent,” said Kyla Lee, a lawyer based in Vancouver.
Lee said research has shown the devices may be more likely to deliver false results in extreme cold temperatures, and movement during analysis could also affect outcomes. She added that while the devices can deliver either a positive or negative test result, they do not indicate how much THC may be in a person’s bloodstream.
Lee recently represented a Nova Scotia woman in a constitutional challenge of the law that allows for roadside drug testing technology in Canada.
Michelle Gray, who uses cannabis for multiple sclerosis, had her car impounded and her licence suspended for a week after she failed a cannabis saliva test at a roadside checkpoint in 2019, even though she passed a sobriety test that same night.
Canada’s former privacy watchdog ‘surprised’ by RCMP spyware program
Daniel Therrien, a former national security official and privacy commissioner, said he was not told the RCMP had found ways to circumvent encrypted communications.And Daniel Therrien, who served as privacy commissioner from 2014 to 2022, confirmed that his office was not told about the secretive RCMP program, which hacked into 49 individual devices since 2017 while pursuing targets suspected of serious crimes like terrorism and murder.
“The technology just doesn’t exist yet to allow police to make a determination of impairment via drugs using physical equipment,” Lee said.
Lee is awaiting a decision on the constitutional challenge in Nova Scotia. She said she expects there will be further court challenges in other Canadian jurisdictions where these devices are used, including the Northwest Territories.
There are two devices approved for roadside cannabis screening in Canada: the Drager DrugTest 5000 and the Abbott SoToxa mobile test system. The companies that manufacture the devices recommend they be used in temperatures no lower than 4 C and 5 C, respectively.
Cpl. Andree Sieber of the Regina Police Service, which began using roadside devices to detect cannabis use in early 2020, said officers bring drivers to their vehicles for testing to prevent issues with weather conditions or temperatures.
RCMP briefed MPs on cellphone spyware risks, foreign interference
The RCMP’s head of national security and protective policing warned MPs this week that foreign actors are most likely monitoring their digital devices.It’s not clear which states are believed to be spying on Canadian politicians, but the RCMP’s top national security official, Mark Flynn, told the House of Commons Ethics committee Monday that it’s likely they’re being targeted.
“We’ve used it throughout all seasons here in Regina,” she said. “We have very cold winters and some pretty nasty, snowy cold days and you have the person attend back to your vehicle with you where it’s heated and it’s not an issue.”
Sieber said the more THC a person has consumed, the more likely they are to show signs of impairment and to test positive.
The RCMP said roadside screening devices are just one tool they use to detect and investigate drug-impaired drivers alongside officers’ observations. They said field sobriety testing and drug recognition experts remain the primary enforcement tools.
“Police officers rely on what they see and hear, as well as what they smell when investigating impaired drivers,” the RCMP said in a written statement. “Regardless of how a drug is consumed, there are signs of that consumption and police are trained to recognized them.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Emily Blake, The Canadian Press
Alberta RCMP members demoralized over proposal to form provincial police service .
CALGARY — The head of Alberta's RCMP says a proposal by the provincial government to form its own police service has been a distraction and harmful to its members. Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said the potential move has been hanging over the organization's head for nearly two years and is having an impact. "Quite frankly it's been very disruptive and distracting for all our employees. Our staff are concerned about their futures and the futures of their partners and their families," Zablocki said in an interview with The Canadian Press.