Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jul 2017
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Prince George Citizen
Author: Gordon Clark
Page: 6


It's less than a year before this great but apparently idiotic country
plans to legalize marijuana, and some doubts emerged this week over
whether that deadline is achievable.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister - attending the Council of the
Federation meetings in Edmonton with the other premiers and
territorial leaders - is lobbying his counterparts to push back by a
year the federal government's July 2018 date to legalize pot.

Pallister says more time is need for provinces to educate the public
about the dangers of drugged driving and also for police and the Crown
to sort out how to enforce the law around impaired driving related to
cannabis. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall also supports an extension
and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says that while her province will
shoot for the deadline, she may seek an extension.

"For us to rush into this, we're putting tremendous risks at play,
we're also putting tremendous costs into the provinces' hands,"
Pallister told CBC.

Those who favour legal pot say the issue has been studied to death and
it's time for Ottawa to get on with it. A spokesman for Justice
Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told the CBC that the feds are still
intending to legalize pot before next July.

On Wednesday, a North America-wide organization that lobbies for the
victims of drugged drivers filed an "opposition brief" against Bill
C-46 which, if passed, would legalize marijuana.

The brief, sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and supported by the
Vancouver-based anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Canada, says the proposed legislation "is fundamentally flawed and
threatens to make matters worse for victims of impaired driving."

DUID Victim Voices (DUID stands for Driving Under the Influence of
Drugs) argues that Bill C-46 errs in attempting to establish "per se"
limits to determine marijuana impairment, similar to the .08 rule for
drunk driving.

The problem is that marijuana is nothing like alcohol in how it is
processed in the body.

"In particular, cannabis is so unlike alcohol chemically, biologically
and metabolically that it is irrational to use a prescribed per se
level for marijuana's

9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as has been done successfully for
alcohol," says the brief. "The per se provision of C-46 perpetuates
the myth that blood levels of

9-THC correlate with levels of impairment."

Alcohol, according to the brief, "leaves the body linearly and at a
slow and predictable rate," whereas "the maximum blood THC level is
decreased by 73 per cent from its peak level within 25 minutes of
beginning to smoke a joint."

"The median time between a crash and taking a driver's blood sample is
two hours, so laboratory tests tell us nothing about the blood THC
level at the time of the crash," it says.

As well, THC is fat-soluble and is "very rapidly absorbed from the
blood by highly perfused fatty tissues like the brain, heart, liver
and lungs."

"Consequently, blood levels of THC tell us nothing about the levels of
THC in the brain, which is the only place that really matters when
trying to evaluate impairment."

DUID Victim Voices is calling on Ottawa to amend the proposed pot law
so that "tandem per se" evidence be used in drugged driving cases.

A driver would be charged if, first, a cop "had probable cause, based
on the driver's demeanour, behaviour and observable impairment, to
believe that a driver was impaired" and, second, if "any amount of an
impairing substance" was found in their blood, saliva or breath.

The tandem per se approach is backed by the American Automobile
Association Foundation for Traffic Safety and similar to rules in
place in Germany, France, Belgium and Finland, the group said.

Such an approach would ensure more drugged drivers were successfully
convicted, bringing justice to victims.

"Having most stoned drivers escape prosecution may be an acceptable
social policy for non-consequential OWI arrests, but many OWI cases
involve death or serious bodily injuries," said the group. "Permitting
the majority of those cases to escape prosecution is a miscarriage of
justice that should not be tolerated."

With several premiers raising similar public safety concerns, the
Trudeau government clearly needs to fix the proposed law before they
release increasing numbers of stoned drivers onto our roads.
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MAP posted-by: Matt