On October 17th 2018 Canada is set to embark on a historical change when marijuana will officially become legal across all Canada for recreational purposes.

The initiative to make marijuana legal was decided by the federal government however, it will be up to each province to devise regulations for the distribution of the marijuana. They will also enforce the federal laws for any and all drug related criminal offences

What many drivers want to know is how this will affect them when it comes to being high behind the wheel.

Any driver that is pulled over and is found to be high or impaired while under the influence of marijuana can be arrested and convicted under the Canadian Criminal Code even if they haven’t had a drop of alcohol. The penalties are the same as those for alcohol-impaired driving which are as follows:

  • A $1,000 fine minimum
  • A criminal record
  • No licence for a minimum of one year
  • Inclusion in programs to assess and reduce the risk of a recidivism
  • Prison (for a 2nd offence or in the case of an accident)

Some drivers may be wondering how exactly police will be able to determine if a driver is high? Police officers are trained to detect drivers who are “high” regardless of what they’ve taken. Unlike with drinking and driving, police officers will not be using a device to detect the quantity of a drugs ingested you have taken by having you blow in to a type of weed breathalyzer. Instead, they will have you go through a series of tests by the side of the road in order to determine your ability to drive. This is similar to the road side sobriety test many police officers will give drivers to determine if they are drunk. The test will include the following:

  • Eye-movement test

The police officer will have you follow a pen with your eyes in order to detect the presence of nystagmus (involuntary, jerky eye movements).

  • Walking test

The police officer will ask you to walk on a straight line and turn around.

  • Balance test

The police officer will ask you to keep your balance while standing on one leg and counting out loud.

While these tests may appear silly in nature don’t let them fool you. These tests are difficult to pass if a driver is under the influence of drugs including marijuana. If a driver fails any of these tests, the police officer will arrest them and take them to the police station where they will have to undergo other tests such as blood or urine samples.

Just to be clear driving while under the influence of marijuana is the same as driving drunk and is considered a criminal offence. Drivers will now need to wait a few hours at least after smoking marijuana before they get back behind the wheel of a car. The exact amount a driver needs to wait will vary from person to person based on:

  • Their age
  • Their weight
  • How often or regularly do they smoke
  • How much weed they initially consumed

Different research studies on the effects of marijuana on driving and the amount of time it takes for you to get back behind the wheel can vary anywhere from 6-12 hours. It can take THC up to 24 hours to clear your system after smoking. The best answer of course is if you plan to smoke then don’t drive. Find yourself a designated driver or grab an Uber.

The information provided in this blog post is strictly meant for educational purposes only. This information should never be confused with getting proper legal advice. There is no substitute for legal consultation with an experienced and professional traffic ticket lawyer who understands the law and how it affects you. If you find yourself in a situation like this, please do not hesitate to call us for more information or to book your consultation with us.