DRUGS

prov­ince in­tro­duces penal­ties to crack down on those who drive while im­paired by mar­i­juana

Edmonton Sun - - FRONT PAGE - Clare Clancy cclancy@post­media.com @clare­clancy

The NDP in­tro­duced new leg­is­la­tion Tues­day that aims to fill the gap in im­paired driv­ing rules ahead of cannabis le­gal­iza­tion across Canada.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has pro­posed spe­cific drug lim­its as well as penal­ties for driv­ers who break the law. Ot­tawa has also touted the de­vel­op­ment of a road­side drug test in prepa­ra­tion for the July 1 mile­stone when cannabis be­comes le­gal.

Al­berta Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Brian Ma­son said Bill 29 — which up­dates the Traf­fic Safety Act — will re­duce the num­ber of im­paired driv­ers on the road and en­cour­age safe driv­ing if passed.

Risk on the roads

“Other ju­ris­dic­tions have seen an in­crease in im­paired driv­ing when cannabis has be­come le­gal,” Ma­son said, adding the prov­ince will roll out a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign. “The real risk here is that peo­ple don’t feel cannabis is quite as bad or ... is im­pair­ing a sub­stance as al­co­hol. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.”

Al­berta’s rules are a re­sponse to fed­eral leg­is­la­tion and pend­ing changes to the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada.

Un­der Bill C-46, driv­ers would face a max­i­mum $1,000 fine if their blood tested pos­i­tive for two to five nanograms per millil­itre of tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol (THC). For driv­ers with more than five ng/ml of THC de­tected on a first im­paired driv­ing of­fence, a min­i­mum $1,000 fine would be im­posed, with in­creas­ingly harsher penal­ties such as jail time for sub­se­quent of­fences. The rules also im­pose penal­ties for com­bined al­co­hol­cannabis use of 2.5 ng/ml of THC with a blood al­co­hol level of .05.

THC is the main psy­choac­tive com­pound in cannabis.

Those are among the changes that would take ef­fect when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has its leg­is­la­tion in place.

Po­lice don’t have a road­side test for cannabis im­pair­ment yet, but saliva-based screen­ing has been un­der de­vel­op­ment.

Ma­son said driv­ers shouldn’t con­sume cannabis at least 24 hours be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel.

“The cannabis en­force­ment mir­rors

what we do with al­co­hol,” he added.

There would be zero tol­er­ance for new driv­ers un­der Al­berta’s grad­u­ated li­cens­ing rules.

Al­berta’s leg­is­la­tion will also in­clude other changes to take ef­fect Feb. 1. Cur­rently, im­paired driv­ers with a blood al­co­hol mea­sur­ing over .08 face an in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion. The Traf­fic Safety Act will be up­dated to im­pose a fixed-term sus­pen­sion — driv­ers who are im­paired by al­co­hol or drugs will lose their li­cences for 90 days. Af­ter the sus­pen­sion pe­riod, driv­ers will be able to choose be­tween a one-year ig­ni­tion in­ter­lock pro­gram

or they can wait out the year­long sus­pen­sion.

The prov­ince had un­til May 2018 to change the rule in re­sponse to an Al­berta Court of Ap­peal rul­ing ear­lier this year that found in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sions vi­o­lated Char­ter rights.

Push for zero-tol­er­ance

The Al­berta Mo­tor Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion will push for a zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach to cannabis use among pro­fes­sional driv­ers, said spokesman Dan Duck­er­ing.

Brenda John­son, spokes­woman for Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing (MADD) Canada, praised the leg­is­la­tion, but said the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis will make roads more dan­ger­ous.

“We’ve dealt with al­co­hol for over 30 years now in this coun­try and our roads still aren’t safer,” she said.

A sep­a­rate piece of leg­is­la­tion on cannabis sales is ex­pected Thurs­day. The gov­ern­ment is opt­ing for a hy­brid sys­tem in­clud­ing pri­vate stores and on­line sales that are con­trolled by gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to sources.

Al­berta Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Brian Ma­son an­nounces Tues­day amend­ments to Bill 29 — which up­dates the Traf­fic Safety Act — in prepa­ra­tion of the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis.

DAVID Bloom Photos/post­media

Brenda John­son, MADD spokes­woman, warns the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis will make roads more dan­ger­ous.

DUCK­ER­ING Zero-tol­er­ance

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.