CAA Manitoba Fall 2018 | Page 31

The ConTexT for Cannabis This summer, Canada’s federal government passed leg- islation to legalize cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana) across the country. The move is ushering in sweeping changes— particularly for motorists. Here’s what you need to know to navigate the cloudy world of legal pot and driving. What’s in the law? Ottawa’s Cannabis Act has two pieces. Bill C-45 legalizes cannabis for recreational use and sets strict limits on who can sell, produce and possess it. Bill C-46 creates a new set of criminal offences related to driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. How will cannabis be produced and sold? The federal government is dictating what the big picture looks like: Who gets to grow cannabis at commercial scale (only federally licensed producers); how it’s mar- keted (never in a way that might appeal to minors); and how to go about penalizing people who violate the new rules (severely, with prison terms up to 14 years for selling cannabis to kids). But other matters have been left up to the provinces. Notably, these include issues surrounding traffic safety and enforcement when it comes to drug- impaired driving. Can I drive under the influence of cannabis? Cannabis and other drugs have an impact on your ability to safely operate a vehicle, and drug-impaired driving is already a crime. Unlike alcohol—for which there’s a simple breath test to determine if someone is intox- icated—proving impairment by cannabis requires an expert to make observations about a driver’s behaviour. Bill C-46 attempts to fix this problem, in part by specify- ing blood-concentration limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in cannabis. If a driver is found with more than the legal-maximum amount of THC in their body within two hours of driving, they can be charged with a criminal offence. » cAA MANITOBA FAll 2018 31