Pubdate: Wed, 20 Dec 2017
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Maura Forrest
Page: A6


OTTAWA - A new Health Canada survey shows that Canadians are hazy on
the risks of driving high.

Only half of respondents who had consumed cannabis in the past year
felt that marijuana use affects driving, according to the Canadian
Cannabis Survey, released Tuesday, compared with 75 per cent of all
respondents. Another 24 per cent said it depends, while 19 per cent
said cannabis doesn't affect driving.

Of those who had used marijuana in the last 12 months, 39 per cent
said they had driven within two hours of consuming cannabis at some
point in their lives. Forty per cent of those said they had done it in
the previous 30 days, and 15 per cent said they had driven after using
cannabis in combination with alcohol. Only two per cent reported an
interaction with police related to driving under the influence.

The survey results come as Ottawa grapples with how best to crack down
on impaired driving after marijuana is legalized, which the Trudeau
government has promised will happen by July 2018.

"Driving while impaired by cannabis or other drugs is dangerous and
illegal," said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in a statement on
Tuesday. "The message is simple - don't drive high."

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the results "reinforce
why we have invested in targeted public education and awareness
efforts." The federal government has announced $ 46 million over the
next five years to be spent on education, awareness and surveillance
related to cannabis use.

But Conservative justice critic Michael Cooper said the findings show
the government's public awareness campaign "has been a failure."

"It barely got off t he ground until the fall," he said, adding that
when the Liberals' marijuana legislation was before committee this
fall, several witnesses testified about "misconceptions amongst the
public about the impact of marijuana use."

Under Bill C- 46, which sets out major changes to Canada's impaired
driving laws in anticipation of marijuana legalization, people found
to have two nanograms of THC ( the primary psychoactive in cannabis)
per millilitre of blood within two hours of driving could be fined up
to $ 1,000, while those with more than five nanograms could face up to
10 years in jail.

But critics have argued there is no clear correlation between the
amount of THC in the blood and the level of impairment, which can vary
widely from person to person. "What it could mean is that some
individuals who really aren't impaired are going to be caught and
other people who are impaired are going to get away with drug-impaired
driving," said Cooper.

He said the survey results show that Canada isn't ready for legal pot
on July 1, 2018. "When legalization comes into effect, more Canadians
are going to be consuming marijuanaand more Canadians are going to be
on our roads driving impaired," he said. "This is a rushed and
arbitrary timeline."

The survey was conducted between March and May 2017, and included
responses from 9,215 people aged 16 and older. Of those, 2,650
respondents said they had used cannabis in the previous 12 months,
either for medical or recreational purposes.

Both of the Liberals' bills related to marijuana legalization are now
before the Senate.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt