The possibility that marijuana will be legalized in Canada has stirred up a lot of different emotions in a lot of different people. Some are concerned that the streets will be clogged with pot smokers, while others are worried about an even more dangerous outcome: the roads will be clogged with drugged drivers.
Unlike drunk driving where the Government has set a standard of .08 for alcohol impairment while driving, there’s no set standard for cannabis. Some USA states like Colorado have legalized marijuana with a limit of five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in whole blood before a person can be charged, but Canada hasn’t said yet what that limit may be.
There will be many recommendations as the date for legalization gets closer, but one group isn’t waiting to see what the Government decides is legal with regard to level of impairment. The Canadian Mental Health Association in Ontario (CMHA) has come with a report called Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, and they’re strongly in favour of zero tolerance for drugged driving.
A zero-tolerance policy means that there is no amount of cannabis that would be safe to consume before you drive a motor vehicle, and the CMHA feels as though that zero-tolerance policy would ensure that the roads aren’t instantly overrun with drugged drivers the moment legalization takes place.
Without a zero-tolerance policy in place, the concern is that people won’t understand that while marijuana is legal, it’s not legal to drive under the influence of it. Just like alcohol, marijuana can cause vision impairment, reduced coordination, and slower reaction time, so mixing marijuana and driving can be just as much of a disaster as mixing alcohol and driving.
The Government may not pass a zero-tolerance policy when they legalize marijuana, but a report like this is a good reminder that it’s not safe to drive under the influence of any drug, that you can and will be charged with impaired driving whether you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and if you want to stay safe when using recreational marijuana after it’s legalized, always call in a designated driver.