Why Cannabis Users Should Be Afraid of Bill C-46: New Drug-Impaired-Driving Laws

Article by Amanda Siebert, The Georgia Straight

Why cannabis users should be afraid of Bill C-46 Criminal lawyer Kyla Lee says new drug-impaired-driving laws will create uncertainty about what it means to be impaired by Amanda Siebert. Under Bill C-46, if a driver is suspected of being under the influence of cannabis, a blood sample can be taken by police to determine the driver's blood-THC ratio.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted something that would, unwittingly, ruffle a few feathers.

“Someone needs to tell the guy ashing a joint out of his sports car sun roof that his days are numbered,” I wrote. “Wonder if he’s heard of C-46?”

I’ll be straight up: It was deleted out of sheer embarrassment after a few people pointed out that it came across as a moral assessment of the driver’s choice to smoke a joint while at the wheel.

While my intention—to point out that cops across the country are preparing for an all-out roadside offensive against drivers like the one I saw—was poorly conveyed, a follower noted that instead of making it sound like the driver deserved what was coming to him, I ought to “use my platform as a journalist” to discuss the bill’s flaws.

It’s a challenge I quickly decided to take on.

My personal take on whether or not someone should be smoking weed while driving is irrelevant. The reality is, I’m genuinely concerned that neither the police nor the law will be able to make the distinction between a person like myself, a medical-cannabis user who might have a higher-than-average blood-THC ratio, and a driver who is genuinely impaired.

Criminal lawyer Kyla Lee of Acumen Law Corporation specializes in cases of immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) and was happy to discuss the fundamental flaw of the act that will in all likelihood amend the Criminal Code. (Bill C-46 passed a second reading in the Senate and was referred to the standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs in December 2017.)

“As far as its changes to the law related to drug-impaired driving, my biggest concern is the imposition of the two nanograms per millilitre blood-THC limit,” she said by phone from her office in Vancouver.

The bill introduces three new impaired-driving offences and will allow police officers to require drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs to submit a blood sample for testing.

A driver with two to five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood could face a summary conviction with a maximum fine of $1,000. But a driver with more than five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood—or a combination of both alcohol and THC in their system—could face indictment, as both are considered hybrid offences.

Read the full article here.

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