Like it or not, the legalization of marijuana is coming to Canada next year. Although several states have legalized the drug for recreational use, drug-impaired driving is definitely not legal and you will be arrested if you’re caught driving high.
Because Canada has such a huge problem with drunk drivers, they’re considering passing a new federal impaired driving law that will crack down on drug-impaired driving and alcohol-impaired driving, but it’s not carved in stone yet. That’s why advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD) are currently discussing how best to approach these drivers with other advocacy groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Canada.
But the two aren’t in agreement that the new federal impaired driving law will cover all the bases when it comes to drug-impaired driving. MADD supports the federal plan, while SAM disagrees for a few of the following reasons.
Blood levels aren’t helpful when testing drug-impaired drivers
Blood tests may be taken from suspected drug-impaired drivers if the new federal law passes, but SAM doesn’t believe that the blood tests would be accurate. Marijuana doesn’t have the same molecular structure as alcohol, and because impairment resides in the brain and not the bloodstream, the body will eliminate up to 90% of the drug within an hour. That means any blood testing may not be accurate.
Field sobriety tests are reliable, but may be rejected in court
Police say that field sobriety tests are one of the most reliable ways to detect whether someone is drug-impaired driving. MADD is concerned that courts will reject evidence from roadside tests because it’s simply the officer’s opinion and not as valid in the eyes of the court as a THC blood sample.
Despite the differing opinion on the new federal regulations, MADD is happy that the legal THC per milliliter (ml) limit in Canada will be lower than that of states like Colorado. In Colorado the legal THC limit is 5 ng, but if the new impaired driving laws pass in Canada, the legal limit will be at least 2 ng but less than 5 ng.
The bottom line is that there needs to be a solid plan to handle drugged drivers before the legalization passes next year. If they don’t, people may take legalization to mean they are free and clear to drive after smoking marijuana too.