AL­BERTA pot rules

Mar­i­juana to be le­gal across Canada July 1

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Dean Ben­nett THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — ED­MON­TON

Al­berta to in­tro­duce rules to align with fed­eral mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion plan

Al­berta is putting the leg­isla­tive pieces in place for le­gal­ized mar­i­juana, start­ing with changes to align its rules with pend­ing Crim­i­nal Code amend­ments.

“Im­paired driv­ing is the lead­ing cause of crim­i­nal death and in­jury in Canada,” Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Brian Mason said Tues­day af­ter in­tro­duc­ing Bill 29 in the leg­is­la­ture.

“If this bill passes, it will sup­port our gov­ern­ment’s goal of zero im­pair­ment (and) re­lated col­li­sions and fa­tal­i­ties on Al­berta roads.”

Mar­i­juana is to be le­gal across Canada as of July 1, and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is re­vis­ing and tough­en­ing crim­i­nal charges for im­paired driv­ing to in­clude cannabis and mix­ing cannabis with al­co­hol while be­hind the wheel.

Nor­mally, an Al­berta driver caught with a blood al­co­hol level over .08 has also had their driver’s li­cence sus­pended un­til the case was re­solved in court, but a re­cent Al­berta Court of Ap­peal rul­ing said that penalty was un­fair and un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Un­der the bill, it will now be a fixed-term sus­pen­sion of 90 days, but it could be ex­tended to a year if the driver doesn’t agree to par­tic­i­pate in an ig­ni­tion in­ter­lock pro­gram, at a cost of $1,400.

There is cur­rently zero tol­er­ance for any al­co­hol in the sys­tem of a new driver in Al­berta, and that ban will be ex­tended to mar­i­juana.

Brenda John­son, with Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing, said that ban is key.

“That’s a re­ally im­por­tant fea­ture to pro­tect our youth,” she said.

But while laud­ing changes in the bill, John­son said his­tory sug­gests it will be an up­hill bat­tle come July 1.

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

The new Crim­i­nal Code rules will see a fine for a driver with less than five nanograms of THC, the cannabis com­pound that gives the user a “high” in their blood­stream. Stiffer fines and even­tu­ally manda­tory jail time could be im­posed for those caught with five nanograms or more.

Ot­tawa is bring­ing in a road­side saliva test to check for drug im­pair­ment, and the rules are ex­pected to be in place when mar­i­juana is le­gal­ized.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is de­liv­er­ing $81 mil­lion to the prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries over the next five years to up­date po­lice on check­ing and test­ing for drugim­paired driv­ing.

The changes are just one part of the new le­gal mar­i­juana regime.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment will han­dle over­all health rules but the prov­inces will de­cide how to dis­trib­ute and sell cannabis.

On Thurs­day the prov­ince is rolling out leg­is­la­tion to back up its plan on how it will sell cannabis while bal­anc­ing pub­lic safety.

Al­berta has al­ready pro­posed set­ting 18 as the min­i­mum age to use cannabis and is eye­ing sell­ing it through a se­ries of pri­vate stores over the counter but through the gov­ern­ment on­line.

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