Although other countries and parts of the United States have legalized marijuana, there’s a lot of concern about having it legalized in Canada. For some Canadians having the law pass is scary, and it conjures up the mental image of people smoking marijuana while casually walking down the street or, even worse, getting behind the wheel of a car after they do and driving while high.
While Canadians know that legalization is just around the corner, they should also know that police aren’t sitting by and waiting for the law to pass. Just like in other parts of the world, it is a crime to drive under the influence of drugs, and that includes marijuana. That’s because marijuana can impair your motor coordination, judgment, and reaction time, so although you may fine “normal” after you use marijuana, your driving skills are anything but.
No one knows what types of situations will arise when marijuana is legalized in Canada next summer, but Toronto police are already preparing for anything. They believe there will be a jump in arrests because people are driving while high, and they are already prepping to charge these drivers with impaired driving.
They don’t have a roadside breathalyzer like the breathalyzer that can detect alcohol, but Toronto police do have a few plans in place to assess anyone driving while high. In the city of Toronto they have 200 police officers trained in detecting someone driving under the influence of drugs, and there are also 15 drug-recognition experts who are available 24 hours per day to assist police.
While the police are preparing for an increase in drugged driving, Ottawa is prepared to crack down on these drivers with Bill C-46. It allows for three new offenses for drugged driving, and the penalties that person would receive depend on what type of drug they ingested and whether or not they were driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the same time.
The bill also gives police more authority during a roadside stop than they had before, and it will allow an offender to take advantage of their province’s ignition interlock program earlier than they could before.
It’s hard to look to the future and wonder what will be when marijuana is legalized, but Toronto police will continue to do just that. Without a plan to arrest people driving while high, something that’s a potential problem now could turn into a real problem very quickly.