Dealing with drunk drivers is trouble enough for law enforcement officials. Based on the results of a new Health Canada survey, they could be in for just as much—if not more—trouble when marijuana is legalized in the coming months across the country.
There were approximately 781 people in the 3,600-person survey that admitted to smoking pot in the previous 12 months (the survey was conducted in the spring). Among that group, 39 per cent admitted to driving a car within two hours of doing so.
To put that in perspective, health experts recommend that cannabis users wait at least six hours after smoking up before driving again.
But before rushing to conclusions about attitudes towards high driving and the tendencies of pot smokers, it's important to keep in mind that the issue could simply stem from a lack of education. Three-quarters of the survey respondents said that they believe cannabis impairs the ability to drive, but only half of cannabis users agreed—perhaps because they were basing their belief off of intuition and not facts, a consequence of the education void. When all respondents were asked specifically how long they thought people should wait to drive after smoking, 35.7 per cent said "it depends" and 23.5 per cent said "don't know."
Greater education and awareness should make a big difference towards minimizing smoking and driving occurrences, as should drug-impaired driving legislation known as Bill C-46 that appears to be on its way to being passed. It has made it through two readings in the Senate and has been sent to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for more review.