Awareness groups voice concerns over marijuana driving laws

Published: July 25, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Next year, Canada will legalize marijuana use under Bill C-46. The governing Liberal party wants to include a law that would make it an offence for drivers to have more than two nanograms for millilitre of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their blood. Under this law, motorists who pass this limit will be considered impaired.

However, two lobby groups have voiced concerns about the proposal and on Wednesday said it should be illegal to have any level of drugs in blood, saliva, or breath.  

Under Bill C-46, Canadian law would introduce a new infraction for low levels of THC. “I am proposing that the low-level THC offence of between two and five nanograms be punishable by way of a maximum fine of $1,000,” Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons May 19 during debate on Bill C-46.

“The higher drug offence of having five nanograms of THC in the body or more and the combination offence of having a mixture of THC and alcohol in the blood would have escalating penalties that mirror the existing impaired driving penalties,” Wilson-Raybould added. “A $1,000 fine for the first offence, 30 days’ imprisonment for the second offence, and 120 days’ imprisonment for a third or subsequent offence.”

DUID Victim Voices and Smart Approaches to Marijuana disagree with the proposed law and have collaborated in a joint press statement. The two groups say a driver should be guilty under certain conditions. Firstly, if “the driver was arrested by an officer who had probable cause, based on the driver’s demeanor, behavior and observable impairment to believe that the driver was impaired,” and, second, if there is “proof that the driver had any amount of an impairing substance in his/her blood, oral fluid, or breath.”

The release says due to the nature of drug use means many motorists can get away without prosecution. DUID Victim Voices and Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada said that THC is “so quickly redistributed from the blood to the brain and other organs,” that the “majority of stoned drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs test below current proposed” THC blood levels would “escape” prosecution.