Does the Cannabis Act give teens more chances to drive high?

Published: October 24, 2018

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Earlier this month, the federal government’s Cannabis Act came into effect, legalizing marijuana use for recreational purposes. Through this week, Parachute Canada is running its annual National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) and a focus is being placed on drugged driving.

Driving while under the influence of drugs is now in the public eye and likely to remain there. The Cannabis Act has opened a scenario where drugged driving is as problematic as impaired driving through alcohol.

While NTDSW will also focus on aggressive driving, speeding, drink driving, and distracted driving this year, there’s no doubt an emphasis must be on marijuana. Discussing the overall week of events, Parachute Canada highlights how important teen driver safety education is:

“Although drivers 15 to 34 years old represent only about 30% of the driving population, they accounted for 40% of the fatalities and 45% of the serious injuries, indicating that younger drivers are at greater risk,” Parachute said.

Increasing Fatalities

In terms of drug-impaired driving, the organization says over the last 10 years, one in four teens who died in auto collisions tested positive for cannabis. This raises an interesting situation. If teen drivers were willing to drive high before, they may be further emboldened by cannabis legalization.

“Just one wrong choice can cause a devastating collision,” said Steve Podborski, Parachute president and CEO. “Teen drivers have the power to make the right choices, prevent heartbreak and save lives.”

Parachute Canada offered the following advice about driving high:

  • “Drugs, whether prescription, over-the-counter or illegal, can slow drivers’ reaction times as well as their attention to the task of driving. Know the facts and don’t drive high.
  • Your motor skills decrease, and reaction times increase when you driver drug impaired. You are more likely to crash and hurt or kill someone else. Drive sober or make other arrangements to get home.
  • Know that police can detect drugged driving. Don’t risk losing your licence or going to jail.”