And the Provinces’ Demand for Extra Funding
Does Legalization Increase the Risk to the Public, or is this Reefer-Madness 2.0?
One of the most contentious issues facing all sides of the cannabis legalization process is the issue of cannabis-impaired drivers. Opponents of legalization are claiming there will be a sudden increase in risk to public safety on the roads due to legal cannabis use. The proponents are claiming they are mitigating that risk by introducing new tests and increasing penalties. Neither side is able to produce any statistics to show that cannabis-impaired driving has been a serious problem in the past even though Canada has one of the highest cannabis usage rates in the world during prohibition.
Medical patients are justifiably concerned they going to have to choose between medicine and mobility.
Many of the uninitiated may not understand the effects of cannabis and certainly not the intensity or duration of intoxication. It is almost impossible to explain as no two people experience the same effects. Unlike alcohol, the effects of cannabis are fairly short-lived and a person can expect to be ‘sober’ in about 90 minutes. This time varies from person to person, and heavier users will be less affected and for shorter a duration. A medical patient using 10 or 20g /day may never feel ‘high’. THC is fat-soluble and collects and is stored in the body’s fatty tissue. This can result in a person testing positive for cannabis use weeks or even months after they last used. When we think about impaired driving, the first thing that comes to mind is alcohol. Alcohol intoxication is relatively easy to test for. Science has found that a BAC of .08% is a point where impairment is likely to occur, and this is widely accepted by society as a whole. While alcohol is by far the cause of the bulk of impaired driving arrests, crashes and fatalities, there are many others using our roads while under the influence of many other substances. Many of these are prescribed medications and despite warnings on the bottles, it is very rare for a person to be charged for such an offense unless their actions have caused an accident. The reason for this, in large part, is the lack of scientific evidence that points to a certain level where impairment is probable. The courts are very black and white.
While the Trudeau Liberals have come out and said 2ng is the magic number that indicates impairment, there is no evidence to back that up. A medical user would need to stop using their medicine months before getting in the car. Given the characteristics of cannabinoids and their ability to accumulate and remain in the human body for extended lengths of time, trying to find a number that can be used similar to the standard .08 Blood Alcohol Content, is impossible. There is no such number that will prove cannabis impairment.
Politicians are grabbing at straws in an effort to satisfy the public insistence for a tool to use to stop cannabis users from driving high, so they latched on to something they think the public is going to swallow with 2 ng. With the correct wording, “driving over 2 ng cannabis” rather that calling it “impaired”, they will do nothing to make the roads safer, but will certainly initiate countless court challenges and it will add a new revenue stream for local police departments at the expense of sober, law-abiding citizens.
Let’s have a look at a few scenarios:
1) Joe ingests some cannabis before bed to alleviate his insomnia. He
sleeps well and rises fresh and ready for work. On the drive in to work
he is pulled over and subjected to a drug test. He tests at 3ng and is
charged with impaired driving. What about alcohol? Is a severe hangover
not an impairment?
2) Pete goes out for drinks after work to celebrate a
retirement. He takes a cab home around 11 and set's his alarm for 6 am.
He is tired and a little hungover in the morning and gets into a
fender-bender on the way to work. He blows .05 on a portable
breathalyzer and is not charged. Is the cannabis user, Joe, a bigger
None of us wants to share our roads with anyone impaired by any substance, but neither do we want to persecute people who are not impaired. Setting an arbitrary number like 2 ng, which has absolutely no correlation to impairment, will not achieve the stated goal of taking impaired drivers off of our roads. The only test that will determine impairment by cannabis, imho, is a good old fashioned ‘roadside sobriety test’. Follow the pen, walk the line, touch your nose, and answer a few questions. If a person’s motor skills are not affected and they are able to carry on a conversation, that would alleviate most concerns of impairment. Every cop can do it, no expensive testing devices required.Why is it then, that there is such a demand for new funding to combat something that posses such little risk of impact on society? Cannabis users are being unfairly demonized as irresponsible menaces months before legalization takes effect, while alcohol continues to be the killer. Legalization is being viewed by provincial and municipal politicians as an opportunity to extort money from Ottawa. Impaired driving is one area under provincial jurisdiction that they assumed would have enough public support to force Ottawa to provide extra funding. They have also claimed an impending explosion in marijuana addicts and the necessary ‘education programs’ to prevent the surge in cannabis-addicted people, requires more money. All of these sound like responsible governance until you do a little poking around with a baloney meter.
Cannabis is non-toxic, non-addictive and carries no risk of overdose, beyond extreme sleepiness, regardless of amount ingested. There is are no withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping cannabis use.
When we look at the most widely used legal drug, caffeine, the contrast is stark. 3200 mg of caffeine ingested at one time is enough to kill an adult human. The withdrawal from caffeine results in headache, irritability, sleeplessness, confusion, nausea, anxiety, restlessness and tremor, palpitations and raised blood pressure Pure caffeine powder is sold in boxes of 124g, or 124,000mg, more than 39 times the lethal dose, without a prescription and without an application or approval from Health Canada.
Given the scourge of alcohol-related violence and deaths, combined with the addictive properties of caffeine and it’s widespread use, I am shocked that the provinces and cities haven’t demanded increased funding to combat those problems that currently exist before over-reacting to a situation that doesn’t exist at present and is likely to never to be a problem.
The answer, once again, is greed. These elected vultures and their associated police departments are worse than any marijuana dealer I’ve ever dealt with – except that one guy who ripped me off in Edmonton in 1987. Nah, what am I saying, he only got $30, governments are after millions.
There is no evidence to show that legalization will result in any added strain on existing resources, and in fact with legalization comes a dramatic reduction in cannabis-related crime.There is no sincerity or credibility on the part of politicians when they cry for more money for a non-existent problem. Over a half-billion taxpayer dollars have been spent or pledged for the implementation of the legal sale of cannabis, something that has been happening across this country for more than 70 years. Let that number sink in; $500,000,000. Imagine what that could have done for health care, homelessness or education.
|The debate and court challenges over drivers accused of being impaired by cannabis will start almost immediately and will continue for years. The only beneficiaries of this flawed legislation will be the lawyers.|
|Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!|