Manitobans getting behind wheel after consuming pot: report
Published Friday, August 10, 2018 8:26AM CST
A new report out of Statistics Canada shows that nearly one-fifth of cannabis users in Manitoba have driven within two hours of consuming pot.
This number is slightly higher than the national average, which found that 14 per cent of pot users with a Canadian drivers licence have been behind the wheel within two hours after consumption.
“Forty per cent of fatalities right now in Manitoba involve someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Sgt. Paul Manaigre of the Manitoba RCMP.
"Now with the drug becoming legal, we want to ensure that this doesn’t become a problem for motorists on the highways.”
But the report shows it’s not just people driving by themselves, 6.5 per cent of Manitobans over the age of 14 said they’ve been a passenger in a car with a driver who consumed cannabis no more than two hours earlier.
With the cannabis legalization date coming up on Oct. 17, the Winnipeg Police Service and RCMP said they are prepared. Currently, to test if a driver is drug impaired police will ask them to complete a sobriety test and if the person fails they could be arrested and forced to take a blood or urine test. Police are also waiting for a new oral fluid screening device to be approved, which could help with testing for drugs.
“I can’t speak onto what exact devices they are or what’s been approved but once they are deployed officers will be trained,” said Manaigre.
Driving while high is currently illegal and will remain that way after Oct. 17. Lynda Balneaves, an associate professor in the college of nursing at the University of Manitoba, said that many people need cannabis for medical reasons and thinks the law should be based on research.
“To me, we need to do research on what is the amount of cannabis that people can use and still be safe and what is the amount where we see impairment,” she said.
-With files from Sarah Plowman.