Driving stoned in at least one part of Canada is about to become a major no-no. In an effort to crack down on “high driving”, Ontario is adopting a zero-tolerance policy for young drivers under the influence of cannabis.
Ontario Cracks Down
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Monday a new set of rules to prevent specific groups of motorists from driving high. Commercial truck drivers, drivers 21 and under, and novice motorists will all face austere penalties for operating a motor vehicle if found under the influence of cannabis.
Drivers under 21 and G1, G2, M1 and M2 motorists will face a three-day suspension and a $250 fine upon their first offense. Second-time offenders will be penalized with a week suspension and a $350 fine. From the third offense on, drivers will be hit with a month-long ban and could be fined up to $450.
Commercial truck drivers will face similar penalties. They face a three-day suspension upon being caught, and a $450 fine.
The newly-christened penalties for high-driving closely mirror Ontario’s policies for driving under the influence of alcohol, albeit somewhat less stringent. Drivers found with a blood-alcohol level under or at .08 face suspensions anywhere between three and 30 days, along with a $450 fine. Anything over the .08 mark can result in a three-month suspension and a $550 fine.
“There is no excuse for impaired driving—whether it is due to drugs or alcohol,” Wynne noted.
Final Hit: Ontario Adopts Zero Tolerance Policy on Stoned Driving
One of the biggest question marks when it comes to cannabis legalization on a federal level has been how to penalize drivers under the influence of weed.
According to MADD Canada’s Andrew Lurie, cannabis has been the most prevalent drug in fatal road accidents throughout Canada.
Unlike alcohol, which has also proven to be a highly precarious substance while behind the wheel of a vehicle, it’s far from a cut-and-dry case. Mainly, because of the difficulties associated with accurately testing the subject.
Lurie hopes that forthcoming oral-fluid tests will help fix that issue, in addition to keeping cannabis-impaired motorists off the road.
Despite some of these difficulties, Ontario is clearly ahead of the curve when it comes to cannabis-regulation, but that isn’t necessarily news. Canada as a whole was one of the earliest countries to embrace the use of medicinal marijuana, and it has been a staple of the country since 2000.
Similarly, Canada looks to become the second country to have nationwide legalization of recreational weed, behind Uraguay. Recreational cannabis is expected to be legalized on a Federal level by July of 2018.
It remains to be seen if Ontario’s policy will be adopted in any of Canada’s other major providences. Regardless, it should prove to be a litmus test of sorts when it comes to cannabis-related motor-vehicle laws, both for Canada, and even the United States. If the new policy proves successful, don’t be surprised if the States follow a similar template in years to come.