If you use Cannabis, when can you drive?
The Government of Canada has sent out a mailing to tell Canadians about our new cannabis laws that go into effect on October 17, 2018.
There are some problems with what it says on the card. The card doesn't completely tell you the whole story, especially for young persons.
It say's "Don't drive high or work impaired". It says "Cannabis can impair you ability to operate vehicles or equipment safely". What it doesn't tell you is that the criminal law and the Highway Traffic Act law have been amended, as well, so that the new laws prohibit far more than "driving high".
Please note that some people in Canada, notably the Chiefs of Police, believe that no one who smokes marijuana should ever drive, adults or young persons. They say that impairment of ability can last for a very long time after smoking and so Canada should have laws that create criminal consequences for anyone who smokes marijuana ever and drives. You need to know that it isn't just a question of getting into trouble with the police for driving "high", you can get into a lot of trouble for just driving, driving well, weeks after smoking a marijuana cigarette. That can happen to both adults and young persons.
The Province of Ontario has passed new laws that say that if a novice driver or young driver fails an approved drug screening equipment test, then there is a suspension, an "offence", and a "penalty". That will happen whether you are "high" or not. The problem is that even though, THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis is eliminated from the body pretty quickly, its metabolites, including THC-COOH, can easily remain in your body, for many weeks. Even if it is not psycho-active, it gets stuck in the fat in your body. We don't know yet for sure, because the public aren't allowed to buy the machine, but we think, that the new roadside approved drug testing equipment will not be able to distinguish THC from THC-COOH. "Failing" a test will have serious consequences.
We think that is the reason why some police services are telling their officers that they can't come to work within 28 days of smoking a marijuana cigarette. Everyone who smokes a marijuana cigarette needs to wait at least 28 days, maybe weeks more, before driving. If the police have to do it, they will expect that you have to too. That's the only way to increase the odds that you will pass a roadside Approved Drug Screening Equipment test or a urine test.
The other problem is that if a police officer asks you, and you tell them, as part of a Drug Recognition Evaluation, that you have used marijuana, they may become biased into thinking that the cause of what they perceive is "impairment", is cannabis. That combined with a finding of THC-COOH in your urine, may be enough for a conviction for the criminal offence of "impaired". Canadians are going to be subjected, more and more, to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Lots of people can't do them because of physical injury, disability, or age. That makes it distinctly possible that police may perceive that you are "high", even if you're not.
Please don't drive and please tell your children not to drive FOR A VERY LONG TIME after smoking a marijuana cigarette.
Please also remember that medical marijuana will contain at least some THC. It is risky to drive any time after consuming medical marijuana because you may still have some THC or a THC metabolite in your system.