As recreational cannabis legalization comes to fruition tomorrow in Canada, law enforcement could be equipped with a new form of technology that is aimed to prevent “high driving.” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould recently announced a one-month preapproval of the Draeger Drug Test 5000, which is already being utilized in countries throughout Europe. The Draeger 5000 is designed to be able to detect if motorists have consumed cannabis within the last 6-8 hours. 

The topic of roadside breathalyzer-type devices for measuring the intoxication level of cannabis comes with much controversy. While anyone would agree that intoxicated drivers have no place behind the wheel, how to accurately test for cannabis intoxication is a source of much debate. This debate often leaves many wondering just how accurate these roadside tests are when it comes to cannabis intoxication.

Unlike alcohol, THC, the primary cannabinoid known for intoxicating effects, takes much longer to metabolize and leave the body. Smoking a single joint today could result in failing a drug test 3 weeks later, whereas with alcohol, it is entirely different. Alcohol takes roughly 12-36 hours to flush from your urine entirely and can no longer be detected on the breath after just 24 hours. 

With alcohol, science supports that a blood alcohol level of more than .08 causes intoxication and could prevent a motorist from being able to operate a vehicle safely. With THC, what classifies as intoxicated could drastically differ from person to person. For example, someone who has been consuming an ounce of cannabis weekly for 20+ years is likely to be much less intoxicated from a joint they just smoked as compared to a medical cannabis patient that utilized cannabis for the first time three months ago and medicated a few hours ago—especially if they only consume a few times weekly at low titrates.

Bill C-46, which coincides with the Cannabis Act, defines THC limits for determining impairment. Below are the restrictions and associated charges.

  • 2-5 nanograms of THC per 100ml of blood: Max fine of $1000
  • 5+ nanograms of THC per 100ml of blood: 1st offense, minimum fine of $1000; second offense, 30 days in jail; 3rd offense, 120 days in jail.
  • .05 on alcohol breathalyzer and more than 2.5 nanograms of THC per 100ml of blood: 1st offense, minimum fine of $1000; second offense, 30 days in jail; 3rd offense, 120 days in jail.
This bill also removes the requirement for law enforcement to have reasonable suspicion to perform a breathalyzer test and doubles the maximum sentence for impaired driving to 10 years. Hopefully, as the stigma surrounding this plant continues to fade and research becomes more abundant, we will realize that cannabis consumers are not dangerous members of society, and we will all be able to medicate freely.

  Posted: Tuesday, October 16th, 10:00am a month ago
Profile PictureWritten By: James Priest

James has a passion for wordsmithing content specific to the cannabis community, culture, and industry. This father of seven spends all his time writing about the plant he loves. James believes that cannabis should be an essential part of everyone's life but, this doesn't mean that everyone has to get stoned to do this. Only through education and sharing the stories of the community can we help to tear down the negative walls of stigmas and stereotypes that cannabis has received or the last 80 years. James likes to say, "A single seed can tip the scales, be the seed."

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