The legalization of cannabis
Cannabis, also referred to as marijuana or pot, has been legalized in Canada since October 17, 2018. This means that adults, within the confines of specific amounts, can freely and openly enjoy the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Can you drive and smoke pot?
Despite the use of pot being legalized, it is still an illegal act to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main mind-altering ingredient found in the cannabis plant. The Criminal Code of Canada, specifically sections related to impaired driving, states that persons who have a blood drug concentration of 2 nanograms or more of THC in their system while driving, would be breaking the law. If someone is a novice or young driver (21 years or young), the law has zero tolerance for the presence of marijuana or any other drug or alcohol in the system.
If the THC levels are high, or if there are even minimal THC levels in the system of a novice or young driver upon testing, then charges may be applied for impaired driving. The higher the concentration of THC in your system, the higher the penalty will be, especially if alcohol consumption is involved.
How do police test for cannabis use in drivers?
Currently, police officers are able to use saliva drug testing on the spot to help determine if a driver has THC in his or her system. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (various body and eye coordination activities) are also used to determine if a driver is impaired. If a driver fails the roadside tests, he or she will be taken to a police station to be further assessed and tested by specially trained police officers, known as Drug Recognition Experts. These additional tests can be done using blood, urine or oral fluid samples.
How long after consuming cannabis should you drive?
There is no definite time span as to how long after consuming marijuana (pot) one should wait to operate a motor vehicle, as everyone’s body will respond differently after using the drug. The level of THC in a person’s bloodstream will depend on the strain of marijuana, the way in which it is consumed and how frequently it is used. Research has shown that cannabis can remain in a person’s bloodstream from anywhere between 72 hours to 30 days after being used. This means that even though one may not feel any effects of the drug, it may still be present in the system and may be detected if a test is done.
Consequences of using cannabis and driving
Several consequences can be administered for drug-affected driving. Penalty points can be added to your driver’s licence, your licence may be suspended, fines may be charged, and your insurance premiums may go up. If you are a repeat offender, then you may end up in jail.
Err on the side of caution
If you do choose to consume cannabis for recreational purposes, it is best to consider a designated driver, cab or rideshare options for your safety and to avoid breaking the law.
What should you do if you were injured in an accident caused by a marijuana-impaired driver?
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a driver you suspect was under the influence of marijuana, you should report the accident to the police immediately so that they can conduct the necessary tests.
The police report, with the drug test results, will prove helpful when filing a personal injury claim.
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