What does Cannabis legalization mean for drivers?

There has been a lot of chatter lately about the legalization of cannabis and its implications for drivers. With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, effective October 17th , comes some uncertainty with new or changed laws with regards to driving under the influence.

cannabis driving


Getting high and driving is not only dangerous and is against the law. According to Statistics Canada over the first half of 2018, about 1.4 million Canadians reported that they had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed cannabis in the previous two hours. In addition, one in seven cannabis users with a driver’s licence reported that they got behind the wheel at least once within two hours of using the drug in the past three months.


It only takes a small amount of cannabis to impair your ability to drive. Driving high more than doubles your risk of an accident. Drugs impair your ability to drive by affecting:

  • balance and coordination
  • motor skills
  • attention
  • judgment
  • reaction time
  • decision-making skills

Cannabis can impair each person differently. The impairment on individuals can depend on:

  • The method of consumption, for example how cannabis was consumed (smoked, inhaled, ingested).
  • The quantity of cannabis consumed.
  • The variety of cannabis and its THC levels, including cannabis prescribed for medical use.


As a result, there is no guidance to drivers about how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive or how long a driver should wait to drive after consuming cannabis.


The Canadian Automobile Association, whose polling has found that one in five millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) believe they can drive as well — or even better — stoned as they do sober, funded the research.


So far, police forces across Canada have been slow to deploy roadside saliva testing that can check a driver for recent drug use. They’re also grappling with how to reliably and quickly get blood samples from suspected drug-impaired drivers in order to use new criminal charges. Police are still able to rely on field sobriety tests — which can involve standing on one leg or tracking an object with your eye — to screen for drug-impaired driving at the roadside. Anyone who fails can be taken in for further testing.


Don’t take a chance. Don’t drive high.

What does Cannabis legalization mean for drivers?
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