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Cannabis and Impaired Driving

With summer in full swing, you may be thinking of all the different ways you can relax and do the things you enjoy. Barbequing, reading on a beach, strolling through the park on a sunny day. For some of us, we may consider purchasing recreational cannabis.

Like alcohol, cannabis has specific legislation for how it can be consumed and when. And now that the weather is better, it may be time for a refresher on the penalties for cannabis use.

One of the biggest concerns for Canadians when the legislation legalizing the substance was passed was the impact it would have on drivers, and driving under the influence of cannabis. Just like alcohol, there is an amount that is considered the legal amount – anything higher and you could be charged with a criminal offence.

Being found over the legal limit of cannabis would fall under a criminal charge of impaired driving. As outlined on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website, the legal limits are:

  • Driving with 2 nanograms (ng) but less than 5 ng of THC per millilitre (ml) of blood.
  • Driving with 5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood.
  • Driving with a combination of 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol (or more) plus 2.5 ng or more of THC per 1 ml of blood.

Also outlined on the website are the penalties associated with a conviction of impaired driving. The consequences range from fines and a few days imprisonment all the way to 5 or 10 years of imprisonment. The penalties are applied depending on how the charge is being tried in court.

If it’s a less serious situation, the case may be tried as a summary conviction, which means you may face less severe penalties. The case may also be tried as an indictable offence, which means more severe penalties such as incarceration. The charge can also be tried as a hybrid offence, which means either sentencing options can apply.

If you have been charged with impaired driving, it’s best to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer. It’s crucial to understand your rights, and what legal options you have at your disposal.

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