Clearing the air on cannabis, driving and the holidays

VICTORIA – Cannabis is now legal – but if you choose to use, don’t drive.

You’ve probably heard this message in a new ad from government and ICBC. As public safety minister, I want you to understand why it’s vital to take it seriously. I also hope you’ll talk to your loved ones – of all ages. In a roadside survey conducted last spring, the number of participating drivers who tested positive for drugs was up 15 per cent from 2012, with more than two thirds of those drivers testing positive for cannabis. And drug use was most prevalent among those aged 25 and under, and over 55.

With the first holiday season of legal cannabis upon us, some additional concerns have emerged: a new survey indicates many people think it’s okay to drive after smoking a joint and many will celebrate with both alcohol and cannabis. So let’s clear the air:

* Cannabis reduces your ability to drive safely. Research shows crash risk increases with cannabis consumption and can be significantly greater if your blood drug concentration is over the Criminal Code limit. Drinking alcohol compounds the impairing effect of even a small amount of cannabis.

* The police are ready. Drug-affected driving isn’t new. Police have the tools and skills necessary to detect drivers who are unsafe due to any kind of impairment and take them off the road. If anything, the additional police training that has accompanied legalization has increased their ability to stop drug-affected drivers.

* The police are out there. Counterattack is underway now and next year, funding for enhanced police enforcement will rise dramatically.

* Mandatory alcohol screening is legal in Canada beginning Dec. 18, 2018. If you’re affected by alcohol, or any substance, and driving, expect greater scrutiny.

* The penalties are serious. Beyond recent changes to the Criminal Code, we’re toughening provincial sanctions. On Oct. 17, 2018, we extended B.C.’s zero- tolerance restriction for the presence of alcohol to cover the presence of specific drugs, such as THC and cocaine, for new drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP). And in spring 2019, we’ll provide police with more tools to remove drug-affected drivers from the road for 90 days – a much more serious sanction than the existing 24-hour driving prohibition.

* You can take it with you – but there are rules about transporting cannabis in a vehicle. You’re probably aware that nobody is allowed to have open alcohol or consume it in a motor vehicle. The same goes for medical and non-medical cannabis. Cannabis in its original, sealed packaging can be stored anywhere in a vehicle. But if it’s unsealed, it has to be out of reach of the driver and passengers – for example, in the trunk.

For more details, I encourage you to visit: www.getcannabisclarity.ca In recent years, the number of lives lost in alcohol-related crashes has decreased. Together, our government and police agencies are determined to preserve and build on these life-saving gains in a legal cannabis environment.

However you choose to celebrate this season, plan ahead for a safe ride home – with a friend, by cab or via a program like Operation Red Nose, which has volunteers in 19 B.C. communities ready to drive you home if you feel unfit to do so for any reason. Please help us ensure safe and happy holidays for everyone.

Just Posted

If you have N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee do not drink it

Interior Health advises N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill Coffee has been recalled

Ground breaks on new hotel project

The Best Western will add 72 new rooms for visitors

An armload of cute!

Spring is here and so are the animals

Spring has arrived!

The first day of Spring arrived today, Wednesday, Mar. 20, at 2:58 p.m.

Library fun for all ages

The Thompson Nicola Regional District Library in Barriere is offering a number… Continue reading

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read