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Setting laws for driving under the influence of pot will be tough

As most Canadians are aware, the federal government has vowed to legalize marijuana in this country. Part of the plan includes changes to laws covering driving under the influence of drugs in Ontario and across Canada. While the need to regulate driving while high is obvious, how it can be accomplished is less clear. Some experts believe it will be very difficult to establish legal limits for pot impairment.

The plan is to establish a legal limit for THC, the active component of marijuana, in the bloodstream. This is similar to current methods of establishing drunk driving. As proposed, any person with 2 to 5 nanograms of THC in his or her blood within two hours of driving is legally impaired. A conviction would mean a maximum fine of $1,000.

A person with more than 5 nanograms, or with a combination of THC and alcohol in his or her blood, receives a mandatory fine of $1,000 for a first offence. A second offense would mean 30 days in jail. Anyone convicted a third time goes to jail for 120 days.

According to experts, however, it may not be so simple to use a number to establish impairment. THC leaves the bloodstream quickly, meaning someone who appears impaired may have a THC level below the legal level by the time he or she is tested. Also, not unlike alcohol, the amount of THC it takes to impair one person is not necessarily the same for everyone. Some believe that establishing an effective legal limit, and accurate tests might be a bigger challenge than expected.

The possible fines for driving under the influence of marijuana are steep. Anyone facing such a charge will want to defend him or herself as best as possible. To do so may require the assistance of a defence lawyer who has experience with impaired driving laws in Ontario

Source: Toronto Star, "Liberals' plan to curb stoned drivers face limits of its own, experts say", Sammy Hudes, May 5, 2017

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