Weed is legal in Canada. There’s nothing stopping you – except if you’re underage – from having a fun night with your friends, blazing up and having a laugh. Or perhaps you use cannabis for health reasons and pain relief, in which case, it’s a great way to help your body relax and rest. No matter your reasoning, Canadian laws allow you safe and legalized access to cannabis, however, there is a great deal of responsibility that comes with that right. Just as alcohol impairs your driving, cannabis does too. So, will driving while under the influence of cannabis get you in trouble with the authorities in Canada? Let’s dive in.
Is Driving While High Illegal in 2022?
Yes, operating a vehicle while high on cannabis is considered a criminal offence in Canada. Bill C-46 was updated in 2018 to include extensive rules surrounding drug use and driving. This bill added federal laws and penalties to the Criminal Code of Canada while provinces and territories have also introduced new laws of their own relating to cannabis use and driving.
While some people assume a DUI is only applicable to alcohol consumption, it includes drug use as well. To ensure you know the legal risks you take when driving while high, Bill C-46 includes the following DUI charges:
- Having between 2 to 5 nanograms (ng) of THC per millilitre (ml) of blood within two hours of driving could result in a $1,000 fine.
- Having 5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving could be a summary or indicatable offence, with the punishment ranging from a $1,000 fine to a maximum of ten years in prison for repeat offenders.
- Lastly, having both alcohol and THC in your system would be a hybrid offence that is also punishable by a $1,000 fine to a maximum of ten years in prison for repeat offenders.
How Does Cannabis Affect Your Driving?
Now, you may have heard of both THC and CBD. Both are found in cannabis; however, CBD is a therapeutic compound that does not cause impairment or have mind-altering effects. Whereas THC does compromise reaction time, sight, loss of concentration, and other forms of impairment.
A lot of regular cannabis users claim that being high improves their driving abilities. This common misconception is highly dangerous as THC is known to impair one’s abilities in more ways than one. In fact, over 40% of drivers who are killed in car accidents test positive for drugs in Canada. This exceeds the number of those who test positive for alcohol consumption. Therefore, it’s an incredibly serious and life-threatening offence that endangers more people than just the driver. Here’s how cannabis affects your driving abilities:
- Slows a driver’s reaction time
- Negatively affects motor skills
- Impairs short-term memory and concentration
- Causes inconsistency, leading to speed variance and lane wandering
Using Cannabis Safely in Canada
Yes, cannabis is legal in Canada. While many users reap the benefits of cannabis usage, it’s important to remember that it’s still a mind-altering drug that could have negative long-lasting effects.
Before you use cannabis, ask yourself the following:
- Why am I using it?
- Do I really want to use it?
- Am I getting it from a safe, government-regulated dispensary?
- How much THC is in it?
- How much CBD is in it?
- Do I need to travel within 6 hours of cannabis use?
When using cannabis, it’s safer to:
- Avoid using too much, too often as you can become dependent on it.
- Wait at least 6 hours before operating a vehicle after consuming THC.
- Avoid smoking as this can be harmful to your lungs. Consuming edibles is the safest route, as smoking and vaping harbour negative effects.
- Go slowly, especially with edibles, as the effects can take up to 4 hours to hit their peak.
- Avoid mixing cannabis with other drugs and alcohol. Not only could this intensify the effects causing increased impairment, but mixing could also have a bad reaction in your system.
Plan Before You Partake
To eliminate the risks of driving while under the influence of cannabis, there are several options available to you:
- Take public transit
- Call an Uber or cab
- Have a friend or family member pick you up
- Stay overnight
- Book a designated driver service
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Not only does this provide a safe ride home for you, but your vehicle as well. With Safe Designated Drivers, you can book a trip home ahead of time and save on multiple trips of cab and bus fare. Book a designated driver in Vancouver today!