Since the self powered vehicle was invented, there have been campaigns to eliminate drunk drivers. Finally, those campaigns have been working with the number of road fatalities involving legally obtained alcohol dropping in recent years. The same can’t be said for cannabis, which is poised to become legally obtained in Canada.
The latest data shows the percentage of marijuana-involved traffic deaths in Canada are on the rise, particularly among younger drivers.
According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation National Fatality Database, in 2000, almost 35 per cent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for alcohol compared to 12 per cent who tested positive for marijuana.
By 2014, the numbers for alcohol had declined to 28 per cent whereas it increased to almost 19 per cent for marijuana.
“Results vary greatly by age,” states TIRF in a release. ”Marijuana was the drug most commonly detected among 16-19 and 20-34 year-old fatally injured drivers (29.8 per cent and 27.2 per cent respectively). Fatally injured drivers in older age categories were more likely to test positive for other drug types.”
One of the researchers, Dr. Heather Woods-Fry, suggests that while trends in cannabis use pale in comparison to research into drinking and driving, the numbers point to a lack of full understanding about the risks.
“While the percent is still higher for alcohol today, if current trends continue, marijuana might become more prevalent among fatally injured drivers.”
She says Ottawa needs to be proactive in reducing the number of traffic fatalities where drivers test positive for cannabis.
Ottawa launched a campaign targeting drug-impaired drivers yesterday.
You may think that you will be able to buy marijuana legally as of July 1. 2017, think again.
Conservative senators are threatening to hold up passage of the two bills that would legalize cannabis consumption and toughen rules against abuse. Unless these senators yield, the bills are unlikely to become law in time for the Canada Day deadline.
“I think we have to do our job properly, and that means months,” Conservative Senator Claude Carignan, the lead opposition critic on the legislation, said when asked in an interview how long he thought it would take the Senate to pass the bills.
“The House took eight months to study” the bills, he said. “It will probably take the same timeline to do our job properly.” Given the summer recess, that would push Senate ratification to the end of 2018, at least.
The costs of missing that deadline would be severe. Provincial governments are negotiating contracts with suppliers, who are ramping up production. Governments and private companies are signing leases for storefronts. Police forces are acquiring new equipment, and training officers to identify pot-impaired drivers, although police chiefs across the country say they will not have the wherewithal to enforce drivers free of drug impairments.
Senators will start debate on Bill C-45, which sets out the terms for legalizing cannabis use and sale, and C-46, which sets out new laws for impaired driving due to marijuana use, when Parliament returns at the end of January. Mr. Carignan believes the bills do not adequately address issues such as drug tests for workers, equipment and training for police forces, the impact of legalization on young people, and the tax implications for provinces.