How high is too high to drive?

Pro­posed lim­its would crim­i­nal­ize too many: Lawyers

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page - Ryan Tumilty

A group of lawyers are en­cour­ag­ing the gov­ern­ment to re­think pro­posed lim­its for cannabis use be­hind the wheel, wor­ried peo­ple could be charged based on pot they con­sumed days prior.

As of press time, about 50 lawyers had signed onto to a let­ter sent to Health Canada about the pro­posed changes. They want the gov­ern­ment to back down from a pro­posed crim­i­nal of­fence that would charge any­one with more than two nanograms of tetra hy­dro cannabi­nol (THC) in a millil­itre of blood.

That level of THC would be pun­ish­able only by a fine and treated as a lesser of­fence, any­one with more than five nanograms in their sys­tem would be sub­ject to mea­sures more in line with cur­rent im­paired driv­ing laws for al­co­hol, which can in­clude jail time.

Har­ri­son Jor­dan, an ar­ti­cling stu­dent in cannabis law at Lewin Sa­gara LLP who helped or­ga­nize the let­ter, said the lower limit risks net­ting any­one who uses cannabis, es­pe­cially med­i­cal users.

“This would crim­i­nal­ize many Cana­di­ans in­clud­ing the 200,000 who are cur­rently legally au­tho­rized to use cannabis,” he said. “It’s over­broad.”

Jor­dan said any­one who used on a weekly or daily ba­sis would be at risk be­cause he ar­gues stud­ies have shown the higher THC lev­els can linger for a long time in reg­u­lar users.

“A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of users, af­ter ab­stain­ing for seven days or more, will have two nanograms in their blood.”

He said this would be less of an is­sue if the law dis­tin­guished be­tween med­i­cal use and recre­ational use — but it doesn’t.

Metro at­tempted to con­tact some­one in the health min­is­ter’s of­fice, but did not re­ceive a re­sponse Mon­day, as most fed­eral pub­lic ser­vants were not work­ing.

In their back­ground on the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, they said the lev­els were cho­sen based on avail­able re­search.

“These ele­ments were in­cluded in the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the avail­able sci­en­tific ev­i­dence on cannabis and driv­ing,” reads the gov­ern­ment’s re­port on the is­sue.

Jor­dan ac­knowl­edges set­ting a limit is dif­fi­cult, but said this one is sim­ply too low and this will likely cre­ate a court chal­lenge.

“It’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge be­cause it’s a dif­fer­ent sub­stance than al­co­hol. It doesn’t have that cor­re­la­tion co­ef­fi­cient that al­co­hol use at 0.08 al­ways has.”

a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of users, af­ter ab­stain­ing for seven days or more, will have two nanograms in their blood. har­ri­son Jor­dan

The Cana­dian Press

about 50 lawyers have sent a let­ter sent to Health Canada urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to back down from a pro­posed crim­i­nal of­fence that would charge any­one with more than two nanograms of tetra hy­dro cannabi­nol (THC) in a millil­itre of blood.

Metro | Ot­tawa

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