Update on impaired driving laws, the 1 meter cannabis height limit, & edibles

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There’s been a lot of buzz in Canada as the provinces rush to get ready for cannabis legalization by the July 2018 deadline.

From Ontario’s announcement of an LCBO-controlled retail model, to New Brunswick creating a cannabis crown corporation, to numerous dispensary raids, to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority relaxing the rules for flying with medicinal cannabis, and BC and Alberta both unveiling their frameworks for cannabis legalization…. it’s a lot to keep up with.

But the federal government has been busy as well. Here are the recent updates on impaired driving laws, the fate of the 1 meter height limit for home grows, and the inevitability of edibles.

Impaired driving: How high’s too high?

On Oct. 14, 2017, the Canadian government released a draft to their Blood Drug Concentration Regulations.

Currently, there is only one way to get charged for being impaired driving on drugs, known as the impaired driving offence. Being charged only requires proof of drug impairment- you don’t have to test over a set level of drugs in the blood and you have no right to a jury.

With alcohol, in addition to being able to be charged for proof of impairment,  you can also be charged for having a BAC over 0.08 mg of alcohol (per 100 mL of blood).

Currently, there are no similar blood drug concentration (BDC) offences for THC and Bill C-46 aims to change that by introducing three new laws: one summary conviction and two hybrid offences.

Summary Conviction Offences are for minor crimes and have less severe punishments that max out at a $5000 fine, six months in jail, or both. In cannabis’ case, the maximum penalty for a blood drug concentration (BDC) between 2-5 nanograms of THC (per 100 mL of blood) is a $1000 fine.

Hybrid Offences can be charged as either a summary conviction or indictable offence- it’s up to the Crown. Indictable offences are much more serious. The two new hybrid offences are for:

  1. Having a BDC of over 5 nanograms of THC per mL of blood
  2. Having a combination of low blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and blood drug concentration (BDC)

Legal experts are concerned because, as the federal government said in a statement, “It should be noted that THC is a more complex molecule than alcohol and the science is unable to provide general guidance to drivers about how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive or before the proposed levels would be exceeded.”

1 meter height limit goes up in smoke

On Oct. 4, 2017, the federal government dropped the 1 meter height limit for home-grown cannabis plants. It was argued that the height limit was not only arbitrary, it would be extremely difficult to enforce, and growers could get around the 1 meter technicality simply by growing short, dense plants, according to Global News.

As NDP MP Don Davies said, “Cultivators might break the law simply by providing fertilizer and water and going away for a week’s vacation.”

This amendment to the Cannabis Act was supported by the Liberals and NDP, and opposed by the Conservatives, and it’s important to note that while the height limit was dropped, the limit of 4 plants per household is still in effect.

Edibles are inevitable

Another amendment to the Cannabis Act was made regarding edibles, which were previously prohibited with the promise to eventually get to them later. Now, the bill has been amended with a timeline to allow edibles and other concentrates (like shatter, budder, etc.) by July 2019, a year after dried cannabis becomes legal.



CBC: Government releases legal limits for drugged driving but can’t say how much pot is too much.

CBC: Liberals’ pot bill tweaked to remove plant height limit, add timeline for edibles.

Canada Gazette: Blood Drug Concentration Regulations.