For all the medical cannabis patients rightfully worried about being thrown in jail for driving while medicated, there’s good news- at least for those who live in Ontario.
Bill 174, aka the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Statute Law Amendment Act, contains an important amendment to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act.
The act states that:
“Exceptions are made to the rules respecting driving with a drug in the body if a police officer is satisfied that the driver is legally authorized to use the drug for medical purposes.”
The highlighted passage can be seen in the post from Weedstagram below:
Hooray it was just pointed out to me today! That Ontario passed a law for those drivers who hold a valid medical exemption to by pass the road side testing if they are medicated and not intoxicated! Know thy law! Be armed with the knowledge! #cannabis #cannalaws #cannawin #winning #medicalcannabis #medicated #medicate #weedstagram420 #weedstagram #weedstagram416 #cannabisact #canadiancannabis #cannabiscommunity
What does Bill 147 mean for drivers?
Bill 174 came into force as soon as it received Royal Assent, which was back in December 2017, and while it is great that the Ontario government has recognized that medicating does not automatically mean intoxicated, it still leaves it up to the officer’s discretion. It’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
For all other non-medical users, if an officer decides to test you for drug-impaired driving, you’d have to do a standard field sobriety test followed by a Drug Recognition Evaluation. If you failed those, you would have to provide a urine sample and face impaired driving charges if it comes up positive.
More police powers
Right now, the police need to suspect that you’re impaired before they test you, but Bill C-46 is removing that requirement, giving the police the power to pull you over and test you whenever they feel like it, even if you’re driving perfectly fine.
It’s also worth noting that the machines the government is planning on using to conduct saliva tests for THC will stop detecting it after 6-8 hours. That’s an awfully long time to wait before driving if you want to be 100% in the clear.
This has led to a lot of confusion and uncertainty, especially with the increased penalties for drug-impaired driving enacted under Bill C-46, and it’s great that Ontario carved out an exemption for medical users, but it still leaves all the recreational users wondering how much they can take and how long they have to wait before jumping behind the wheel again.
Featured image courtesy of Len’s Driving School.
Globe and Mail: How will Canada’s new drugged-driving rules actually work?.
Legislative Assembly of Ontario: Bill 147.