HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Medical Pot Users Fume Over Tories' Drug-Driving
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Nov 2006
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Times Colonist
Author: Carly Weeks, CanWest News Service
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


OTTAWA -- Regular medical marijuana users are being unfairly targeted
by the Conservative government's new drug-driving legislation, which
will increase penalties and make it easier for police to crack down on
people who do drugs before getting behind the wheel, a national
advocacy group warned yesterday.

"This law, we feel, would unfairly target marijuana users," said
Russell Barth, a medical marijuana user and member of the National
Capital Reformers. "Discriminating against us based on our medication
. is much like discriminating against us based on the colour of our

Justice Minister Vic Toews revived on Tuesday a Liberal-era bill
designed to catch drug-impaired drivers through roadside checks and
blood samples, an initiative that has failed twice before and raised
concerns about court challenges.

Under the proposed law, drivers suspected of being high would be
required to perform physical tests at the side of the road, such as
walking a straight line.

If they fail, they would be sent to the police station for further
testing and then be forced to surrender blood, saliva, or urine samples.

The federal government's testing scheme for drugs would include
penalties for people who refuse to co-operate, Toews said.

Ottawa also plans to provide about $2 million in police funding to
carry out the testing.

Although the Conservative government said the bill will help keep
roads safe, marijuana proponents say it will create a courtroom
backlog and unfairly target people who use the drug for medicinal purposes.

Barth pointed out some drivers take over-the-counter medication, eat,
talk on the phone and engage in other behaviour that could affect
their driving ability.

"This new law might exclude me [from driving after using marijuana]
while failing to exclude me while using more harmful medication," said

Toews introduced the legislation Tuesday accompanied by Mike Rider,
whose 16-year-old son, Dave Rider, was one of five teens from the
Ottawa area killed seven years ago by a young driver high on marijuana.
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