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

UPDATE: Three wildfires discovered in Clearwater area

All new fires suspected to have been caused by lightning

Simpcw question why Canfor’s $60 million sale of timber to Interfor

“We will not hesitate to take appropriate action to ensure our rights are protected”– Chief Loring

Ready Set Learn Early Childhood information day in Barriere

Thanks to the very generous support from many area businesses and organizations,… Continue reading

Barriere Babies of 2018 celebrate their birthday in style

The Barriere Babies of 2018 Birthday Party held at the Ridge on… Continue reading

Barriere’s “hidden gem” in the North Thompson Valley

There is a hidden gem in the North Thompson Valley, and it… Continue reading

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Most Read