Al­berta starts plan for pot on Crim­i­nal Code amend­ments

Times Colonist - - Business -

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.

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