Pubdate: Wed, 31 May 2017
Source: Goldstream Gazette (Victoria, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Black Press


A consistent model for enforcement will be needed once marijuana is

Whether you agree with the decision to legalize marijuana or not, that
train has left the station and is scheduled to roll down the track on
July 1, 2018. The question we need to focus on now is how it will
affect the rights of citizens, law enforcement and the courts.

Once the smoke settles, there must be clarity and consistency in how
the police and the judiciary deal with offenders under the federal
government's new impaired driving legislation aimed at reducing
carnage on our roads.

A ruling by Justice Nigel Kent on May 18 quashed a charge of impaired
driving against a Vancouver man who, according to the police report,
had "glassy red eyes" and a "strong odour of marijuana" on him, as
well as pot grinders in plain sight in his vehicle.

"The alleged reasonable and probable grounds in this case really boil
down to a combination of slow driving, vegetative marihuana and glassy
red eyes," Kent stated in his ruling. "Absent more objectively
compelling circumstances, however, three 'mere possibilities' do not a
reasonable probability' make."

On the flip side of that decision is a 2017 incident in Langford where
a woman had her licence suspended for three months following a routine
traffic stop. While she freely admitted that the passenger in her
vehicle had just smoked marijuana, she also insisted she has never
smoked pot, and repeated that, in a sworn affidavit she filed in an
attempt to overturn the suspension.

What's clear is that both cases illustrate the uncertainty of what
lies ahead.

Civil liberties groups and lawyers have already started to ramp up the
rhetoric that the new proposed impaired driving legislation goes too
far, and you can probably make an argument for that in the Langford
woman's case.

Contrarily, the Vancouver man appears to have gotten away with
something, despite reasonable police evidence that he was guilty. Both
examples underline the need for clearly defined, consistent legal
boundaries before we enter a new era in 2018. It is paramount that a
balance be struck that protects individual rights while addressing the
risk impaired drivers pose to the rest of us.
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