Driv­ing Im­paired

Fort McMurray Today - - FRONT PAGE - JU­RIS GRANEY [email protected]­media.com

Cannabis le­gal­iza­tion leaves drug-re­lated driv­ing charges largely un­changed.

The early num­bers are in and the post-recre­ational cannabis le­gal­iza­tion land­scape is noth­ing if not un­der­whelm­ing, if po­lice sta­tis­tics are any­thing to go by.

While it has been less than two months, sta­tis­tics from the RCMP and Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice show that the num­ber of cannabis-re­lated vi­o­la­tions — es­pe­cially driv­ing charges — are al­most neg­li­gi­ble.

The data does come with the caveat that the num­ber of peo­ple charged could in­crease as in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue and a month of data is hardly ev­i­dence of long-term trends.

Be­tween Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 Al­berta RCMP laid 2,788 charges for im­paired op­er­a­tion by al­co­hol and 124 charges for im­paired op­er­a­tion by a drug.

In­ter­est­ingly though, in the two weeks be­fore le­gal­iza­tion, K Di­vi­sion Moun­ties laid 144 charges for drunk driv­ing and four for drug-im­paired driv­ing. All four charged were men. The data pro­vided does not at this stage iden­tify what drug is in­volved as the in­tox­i­cant. Eleven peo­ple re­fused to blow.

Com­pared to the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year, 142 tick­ets were is­sued for drunk driv­ing and no tick­ets for drugim­paired driv­ing. In 2016 those num­bers were 150 for drunk driv­ing and five for drugim­paired driv­ing.

In the two weeks af­ter le­gal­iza­tion, Moun­ties is­sued 109 tick­ets for drunk driv­ing and four for drug-im­paired driv­ing. In the pre­vi­ous year, 143 tick­ets were is­sued for drunk driv­ing and just one for drug-im­paired driv­ing. In 2016 those num­bers were 168 and eight.

On Thurs­day, Ed­mon­ton po­lice pre­sented data to city coun­cil as part of its budget pre­sen­ta­tion that showed an uptick in the num­ber of cannabis-im­paired driv­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

In 2016, there was one driver con­firmed to have been im­paired by THC and in 2017, there were 11. In 2018, there have been 34 sus­pected cases of driver im­pair­ment by THC, five of which have been con­firmed to be cannabis.

Deputy Chief Al Mur­phy said in the past six weeks, po­lice have seen a se­ri­ous in­jury col­li­sion where THC im­pair­ment is sus­pected.

“I don’t think any­body wants to over­re­act, but at the same time we want to make the pub­lic un­der­stand there has been im­pact al­ready,” said Mur­phy.

He ac­knowl­edged that the rise could be in part that more peo­ple are driv­ing on cannabis, but it could also be re­lated to in­creased po­lice ef­forts to de­tect cannabis use on the road.

With files Paige Par­sons

DAVID BLOOM/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

A cy­clist and a pas­sen­ger cel­e­brate mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion near Whyte Av­enue and Gate­way Blvd, af­ter mid­night in Ed­mon­ton Wed­nes­day Oct. 17, 2018.

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