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The New DUI Trend: Marijuana-Impaired Driving — What the Laws Say in Canada and the US (Infographic)

The New DUI Trend: Marijuana-Impaired Driving — What the Laws Say in Canada and the US (Infographic)

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 11/04/2016 in Medical Marijuana Infographics

Whether you are a medical marijuana patient or a recreational user, driving under the influence of marijuana is a serious criminal offense both in Canada, and the USA. But, what does the law say? What happens if you are pulled over for driving under the influence of marijuana?

Marijuana Legalization in Canada

Marijuana-impaired driving has become one of the most discussed topics in Canada ever since Justin Trudeau became a prime minister, making promises that the government will do its best to legalize marijuana for non-medical purpose by spring 2017. So it remains to be seen how the police will acutally handle stoned drivers.

However, one of the first steps on the way to legalization is the process of establishing provincial, territorial and federal laws to prevent the substance abuse, which includes marijuana distribution as well as driving under the influence of marijuana. Trudeau’s government has set up the Marijuana Task Force to collaborate with officials and experts in order to establish the best marijuana policy but hasn’t yet revealed exactly how it plans to fulfill the Prime Minister’s election promise, and it’s still not clear whether Parliament will limit how much someone could smoke before driving.

Colorado and Washington Experience

However, looking at how recreationally legal US states like Colorado and Washington deal with marijuana-impaired drivers, is a could indicator of how the Canadian Liberal Government may choose to adress this issue.

Colorado officially legalized recreational adult-use cannabis in 2014, but limits the amount of active THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive constituent of marijuana). According to the state’s medical marijuana regulations, a driver is not allowed to operate a vehicle with more than five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

Determining Marijuana Impairment While Driving

Still, one problem remains – the testing process for measuring the THC level in a drivers blood, remain unrelaible and not effectively precise. The reason for this, is that THC stays in a persons blood for an extended period of time, after smoking a joint for example — days, even months). So, determining drug-impairment with certain accuracy, in this case, has proven to be tricky, as matters are further complicated by the fact that results also vary person to person, based on each person’s independent physiological make-up.

Determining Marijuana Impairment While Driving

Nonetheless, various methods currently exist with which to determine the alcohol and drug level in blood, but, as mentioned, the accuracy of marijuana detection tests may be debatable. In some US states, like Colorado and California for example, if an officer pulls over a driver suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis, the driver would be asked to take a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Additionally the driver would be required to take a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walk and turn test, and stand on one-leg. If failing the test, the driver will be ordered to provide a blood, breath, or urine test.
Police officers in a pilot program are currently using a saliva drug test that can detect THC, meth, methadone, cocaine, and several other prescription medications.

In Canada, police officers are still pilot testing roadside oral fluid drug screening devices which will most likely be implemented after marijuana is officially legalized.

Drunk Driving vs. High Driving Infographic

Below is an infographic created to graphically explain similarities and differences, between laws in Canada and the USA. Additionally it outlines the differences between DUI, DWI, and OWI in those respective states. Since marijuana legalization is a complicated and complex process, perhaps Canada may want to look to its neighbor for guidance on ways to effectively implement their policy.

This informative infographic provides useful information on drunk driving penalties, including the fines for driving under the influence of marijuana in US states where recreational cannabis is legal.



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