Drive Safe Campaign faces new realities of cannabis legalization

Published On May 15, 2018 | By olivialevesque | News

The cover of the 2018 Drive Safe Campaign Booklet. (OACP)

Olivia Levesque

Ontario’s police leaders said Tuesday they are not prepared to deal with the expected boost in drug-impaired driving after the legalization of cannabis.

“With the expected legalization and regulation of cannabis, we anticipate, based on the experience in other jurisdictions that have already been legalized, that drug impaired driving will increase,” Chuck Cox, Ontario Provincial Police Chief Superintendent, said at the annual Drive Safe campaign launch.

Cox also said police leaders are concerned about inadequate federal funding to deal with the anticipated impact of legalization. He does not think funding is sufficient, citing that training, procurement, and operational needs should be further considered.

Leaders from Toronto Police, Ontario Provincial Police, and their umbrella group the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, spoke at the Toronto Police College, outlining changes in the campaign booklet reflecting the regulation and legalization of cannabis.

He said because drug impaired driving is already an issue police deal with, officers are already trained to identify someone who may be under the influence of marijuana. They are also trained to preform standardized roadside sobriety tests.

“Federal and provincial legislation has and is being developed,” Cox said. “It will act as a deterrent and provide police with the power to properly investigate drug impaired drivers. It is still unclear how legalization will impact police day-to-day.”

Other partners of the Drive Safe Campaign spoke about the impact legalization will have on roadways in Ontario.

Warren Bravo, the CEO of Green Relief, a licensed cannabis producer, said medicinal and recreational cannabis comes with the same responsibilities.

“Stoned driving and drunk driving are the same,” Bravo said. “It is imperative that you understand what you have consumed and how it will affect you. How you consume can drastically change your experience, and sometimes unexpectedly.”

The Drive Safe Campaign booklet outlines the affects of cannabis depending on how its consumed. According to the booklet, smoking, vaping, edibles and oils all have different affects, making how to gauge how soon users can drive after consumption very difficult.

“The responsible choice would be not to drive. It’s as simple as that,” Bravo said.

Drive Safe spokesperson Joe Couto reiterated the theme of the campaign, “Who is in Control,” throughout the event, that people remain the most important factor in their safety on the road, no matter how technologically advanced the vehicle.

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