Despite the legalization of cannabis, the leading causes of impaired driving in Regina are currently alcohol, fentanyl, and methamphetamine, said Const. Jon Turner a drug recognition expert instructor and a standard field sobriety instructor with the Regina Police Service in his recent interview with Regina Leader-Post.
“I know there was a lot of fear that the sky would kind of fall in, once legalization hit that it would cause a massive increase in (cannabis-impaired driving),” said Turner. “And we haven’t seen that … We have seen an increase, quite a big increase, in drug-impaired driving, I think because with legalization came a lot more education.”
However, according to Turner, that increase is not due to the consumption of cannabis and driving. “It’s not our driving force for impairment on the road right now. I would say that would be fentanyl or methamphetamine,” said the expert.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) website states that smoking one cannabis joint could impair a driver as much as drinking four beers. Turner also added that more training has led to improved recognition of drug-impaired driving.
According to Kerri Michell, president of Farmer Jane Cannabis Co., the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority has been providing customers with the necessary information about impaired driving. “They’re our regulating body and do a great job outlining expectations and suggestions to ensure customers consume cannabis safely,” said Mitchell.
Although drug-impaired driving has been a concern since the legalization of cannabis, SGI had launched numerous awareness campaigns on TV and social media campaigns in order to inform the public on responsible cannabis use. In addition, there was also a campaign aimed to educate drivers of changes to impaired driving legislation.
The 2020 Canadian Cannabis Survey carried out by Health Canada evaluated the behaviour of 10,822 individuals across the country who had used cannabis recreationally in the previous 12 months.
According to the results of the survey, 22% of those surveyed admitted to driving within two hours of smoking or vaporizing cannabis or a cannabis product. In addition, 13% reported driving within four hours of ingesting a cannabis product, while only 2% of the survey respondents reported having an impaired driving-related interaction with law enforcement while they were driving a vehicle. Participants of the survey expressed that their primary reason for driving after cannabis use was that they did not feel impaired by the cannabis.
According to some law enforcement authorities, these results are the result of extensive training on cannabis-impaired driving.
“There was a lot more funding to train theories and then a lot more pushed by departments as well to educate their frontline officers on drug-impaired driving, not just cannabis, but others as well,” said Turner.