Impaired Driving and Marijuana – What Happens After Legalization
The bill put into place by the federal government to legalize marijuana by July 2018 has just achieved a major milestone – being passed by the house. Bill C-45 was finally approved Monday, November 27 th , by a vote of 200 – 82. The next step is the Senate, filled with conservatives who threaten to slow the passage. But, have we considered what the consequences look like?
In the state of Washington, police don’t believe the legalization has had a negative effect on impaired driving. Sheriff John Urquhart said this: “The Washington State Patrol's numbers indicate that, despite the legalization of recreational marijuana, driving under the influence has not measurably increased.” 1 He believes that those who would drive impaired would do so anyways – before and after the legalization.
On the other hand, Andrew Bergel, a partner at Bergel Magence LLP predicts that “Because it will be a novelty, a lot of people will try it… They will drive and there will be a lot more accidents and a lot more injured victims. In the first year or two, we will see more injuries; then it will decrease back to normal levels.”A small increase seems to be what some believe happened in Washington as well, stating that a potential lack in alcohol related DUIs could have negated the possible increase in marijuana related ones. Additionally, because marijuana cannot be tested with a breathalyser, it poses difficult to prove impairment. Some countries have tried to curb the potential increases by using a saliva-based testing device called a drugalyzer, which can test for presence of drugs, but unfortunately not drug impairment. 2
Ultimately, only time will tell if BC will see an increase in impaired driving following the legalization this summer. If you are concerned about impaired drivers on the road, or are suspicious influence was a factor in your car accident, contact a lawyer. At Pettit and Company, we deal with both sides of an accident, and have decades of experience working with and against ICBC.
1 For the full interview with police in Washington State: Click Here
2 For additional information on impaired driving risks associated with marijuana legalization: Click Here