Over half of P.E.I.’s impaired driving charges have been cannabis-related in 2024

Apr 17, 2024

A recent analysis article published by CBC News and authored by Victoria Walton has revealed that more than half of all impaired charges in Prince Edward Island for 2024 have been related to cannabis use. Specifically, according to the province’s RCMP, 19 of the 36 impaired driving charges so far this year have been linked to driving under the influence of cannabis. In contrast, in 2023, there were 76 cannabis-impaired charges, with a total of 230 impaired driving charges. 

Moreover, Cpl. Moore added that impaired drivers are stopped by both regular and specialized officers in the province’s RCMP traffic unit. “Officers have roadside screening devices for cannabis,” he said. “This is an instrument where the officer would make a demand and take a sample of saliva from inside the cheek of the driver.”

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, the minimum threshold for cannabis impairment while driving is two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood, with five nanograms constituting a more serious offence.

“A lot of people believe that cannabis is the ‘safer’ option as compared to alcohol, for example, because you’re a lot calmer,” said Karen Clinton, president of the Charlottetown and eastern P.E.I. chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada. “They think, well that means that I’m just going to drive slower or be a lot more cautious on the road.” 

 “There may be indicators of intoxication by cannabis,” said Cpl. Gavin Moore in his interview with CBC News. “This could be fresh smoke, this could be product, this could be watery eyes.”

At a PEI Legislature meeting earlier in March, the Souris-Elmira MLA Robin Croucher brought up concerns related to impaired driving to Justice and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson. “Impaired driving continues to be a menace on our communities that too often has deadly consequences,” Croucher said. “Throwing bigger fines, more incarceration isn’t addressing the core problem. Maybe you have to take an upstream approach with education … maybe there has to be other wrap-around services. If you’re caught, maybe you go to an impaired driving boot camp or something like that.”

Furthermore, Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly also said he plans to present a private members bill to invest part of the government’s $25 million in revenue from liquor sales back into harm prevention. “The real issue is about harm reduction and health promotion,” McNeilly said. “We are failing as a province to do these two things properly and educate people.”

While the Criminal Code defines the minimum threshold for cannabis impairment while driving as two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood, there are currently no national guidelines for drivers regarding how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive, or how long one should wait to drive after consuming it.