Pubdate: Wed, 15 Nov 2017
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dean Bennett
Page: A2


Marijuana to be legal across Canada July 1

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.

Brenda Johnson, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said that ban is

"That's a really important feature to protect our youth," she

But while lauding changes in the bill, Johnson said history suggests
it will be an uphill battle come July 1.

"We've dealt with alcohol (impairment) for over 30 years now in this
country and our roads still aren't safer," she said.

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

Ottawa is bringing in a roadside saliva test to check for drug
impairment, and the rules are expected to be in place when marijuana
is legalized.

The federal government is delivering $81 million to the provinces and
territories over the next five years to update police on checking and
testing for drugimpaired driving.

The changes are just one part of the new legal marijuana

The federal government will handle overall health rules but the
provinces will decide how to distribute and sell cannabis.

On Thursday the province is rolling out legislation to back up its
plan on how it will sell cannabis while balancing public safety.

Alberta has already proposed setting 18 as the minimum age to use
cannabis and is eyeing selling it through a series of private stores
over the counter but through the government online.
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