Stats Canada show 14% of people admit to driving after smoking cannabis

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Figures from a Statistics Canada survey were released Thursday and showed that one in seven Canadians have admitted to driving while high.

The statistics were released as part of the National Cannabis Survey which Stats Canada is carrying out prior to legalization set to take place across the country later this year to measure the social and economic impacts of legal cannabis.  

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The survey also found that 1.5 million Canadians admitted to being a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed cannabis within the previous two hours.

The number is triple that of Canadians who drive after consuming alcohol within the two hours prior to driving a vehicle.

“I think if you compare it to alcohol, they’re shocking,” said Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of MADD Canada.

He said that he expects the rate of drug-impaired driving to decline since the federal government recently authorized more tools to detect impairment and police officers will be using these tools in the near future.

“I think once people get the idea that the police do have the tools, that they can detect drug-impaired drivers, especially cannabis, then I think like alcohol with the breathalyzer it’ll start to lower those rates.”

Murie did acknowledge difficulty in pinpointing how much cannabis can be consumed to cause impairment since people tend to be affected differently. There are a lot of variables such as the potency of the product consumed and a person’s individual tolerance level.

Those willing to drive after having consumed cannabis in the previous two hours were more than four times as common among drivers who use cannabis daily or almost daily (27 percent), than it was among less frequent users (6 percent). The survey found that men were almost two times more likely than women to drive while high.

The federal government will likely approve a roadside saliva test for cannabis use by later this month.

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