Alberta starts plan for pot on Criminal Code amendments
EDMONTON — 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.
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 tests to check for drug impairment, and the rules are expected to be in place when marijuana is legalized.
Ottawa is delivering $81 million to the provinces over five years to update police on checking and testing for drug driving.