Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jan 2018
Source: Wasaga Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Metroland


We are just a few months away from marijuana being legal for
recreational use in Ontario.

For legislators, one of the trickiest aspects of navigating the road
to legal pot, has been the question of how to handle/discourage
drugged driving.

How much pot constitutes too much when it comes to cognitive ability?
What's the best way to test for it? A sobering poll, conducted last
year by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), suggests that when
it comes to public education on drugged driving, we have a long way to

Conducted by IPOS, the CAA polled 1,000 drivers and found that 16 per
cent of respondents had used marijuana within the previous three
months. Eight per cent of those pot users said they believe they are
better drivers after using marijuana than when they are sober.

Twenty-nine per cent of users said being stoned did not impact their
driving. Twelve per cent of pot users couldn't tell if there was any
difference between their ability to drive stoned or sober.

"That is a concern and puts safety at risk," CAA spokesperson Teresa
Di Felice told Canadian Press. "There are cognitive impacts, there are
concerns. Those two don't mix."

The survey wasn't all scary news. Seventy-five per cent of respondents
support strict consequences for drug-impaired drivers.

Ontario's drugged driving penalties will align with its drunk driving

But observers anticipate eventual court challenges, as pot is more
complex than alcohol.

We know that cannabis can linger in the system for several days - long
after the effects have worn off. Is the user still legally stoned? In
Ontario, a sober driver with pot in their system will face a fine.

Drivers caught with more than five nanograms of THC (the chemical in
weed that triggers the 'high' and varies according to the strain
ingested) in their blood will be guilty of impaired driving. But a
chronic user may not be 'high' at that level.

There are complexities to work through as we move into this new

We know that THC can cause paranoia and impact reaction times and
depth perception. And there's no guideline to suggest that, for
example, smoking just one joint means you can drive. So it is crucial
that an extensive public education campaign inform people of the
dangers and potential consequences of drugged driving.

All users and potential users need to know that driving under the
influence can devastate their lives and the lives of others.
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