This summer, Canada’s federal government
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-
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. »