What happens when you drive high

Some quick facts to help you prepare for Cannabis legalization in Canada

You’ve probably heard the buzz about cannabis legalization coming into effect on October 17th, 2018. We all know the risks and repercussions of driving under the influence of alcohol, but with cannabis becoming an accepted and accessible drug in Canada, it’s important to be equally aware of the risks of driving high. In 2016 alone, there were over 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents in Canada. In fact, a drug-impaired driving incidence is recorded in Canada every 3 hours.

 

How does cannabis use impair drivers?

THC is a chemical found in cannabis, and it is known to impair a user's judgment and ability to complete simple tasks. Numerous studies have shown that smoking marijuana affects:

  • Reaction time
  • Concentration
  • Short-term memory (i.e., following directions)
  • Concept of speed
  • Awareness of surrounding vehicles and their distance

 

How long should I wait before driving?

Cannabis use impacts each individual differently, making it difficult to objectively state how long a user should wait to drive after consuming cannabis. The method of consumption, quantity consumed, and THC level ingested all are contributing factors to impairment. With so many influences at play, the wisest decision is to play it safe and not drive after cannabis use.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. According to a 2017 Public Safety Canada research study:

  • 65% of respondents agree that cannabis users often fail to realize that they are impaired from using cannabis
  • 25% believe that the impacts of cannabis consumption are less detrimental to driving ability than alcohol
  • 22% of youth who have used cannabis said they drove while impaired. Most said they did it because they don’t think it’s as dangerous as drunk driving
  • 1 in 3 youth have been a passenger with a cannabis impaired driver

 

What are the penalties associated with driving high?

Getting behind the wheel when under the influencer of marijuana is not only hazardous to yourself and others, it is against the law in Canada. The new offences for drug-impaired driving came into effect in Canada on June 21, 2018, including new fines and penalties for offenders - ranging from a $1,000 fine to life imprisonment. But, how can they tell if you’re high? If a police officer suspects a driver is under the influence of a drug, they may ask the individual to take a new standardized field sobriety test or provide an oral fluid sample. An additional blood test or drug recognition evaluation can also be requested.

 

How can I prevent impaired driving?

If you have been using cannabis, follow the same rules you would apply to alcohol use:

  • Arrange for a sober drive home (Friend / loved one / taxi / rideshare)
  • Use public transportation
  • Stay over in a safe environment

 

We’re curious what your safety questions / concerns are about cannabis legalization? Tweet us your thoughts @OnliaCA #OnliaCA.