Canadian Bill C-46 Explained In Simple TermsBill C-46 is a companion bill to C-45, the Cannabis Act. The Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced the bill to parliament in 2017 in conjunction with the Cannabis Act. Its purpose is to increase police powers for people driving while impaired by cannabis. It includes the authority for police to introduce mandatory alcohol screening. The bill increases maximum penalties for breaching driving offences in the Criminal Code.
Canadian Drug Driving RulesThe Bill creates criminal offences related to the level of a drug contained in a driver’s bloodstream. Police can now request a sample from a driver they suspect to be under the influence of drugs. It also allows police to demand a breath sample from a driver to test for alcohol levels. They can do this without needing evidence of a driver being impaired by alcohol.
Serious PenaltiesIt increases the penalties for drivers found impaired by drugs and alcohol. The maximum penalty increases from 10 to 14 years in prison. And, if an impaired driver causes a death they can face up to life in prison. Penalties for failing to stop for a police officer, dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident will double. They increase from 5 to 10 years in prison.
Bill C-46 Explained – Penalties For Drug Driving Offences IncreaseAs senators debate new driving impaired legislation, there are some concerns. Some senators expressed concern at how it will affect patients using medical cannabis. The bill focuses on more vigorous driving legislation for drivers under the influence of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs. Some believe some of the proposed changes infringe on the constitutional rights of Canada’s people.
Three Drug Driving Cannabis Legal LimitsThe changes for drivers under the influence of cannabis has the the three following three legal limits:
- A driver with between two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood will receive a fine of up to $1000. There is also the possibility of not being able to drive for up to one year.
- A more serious offence applies when a driver has more than five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood.
- Another more serious offence applies when a driver has more than 2.5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood combined with 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
Bill C-46 Raises ConcernsAlthough Senators support the bill in principle, there are concerns that some of the limits could become a court challenge. Particularly in regards to the equipment used for testing the limits of THC and CBD for impairment. Although THC or CBD is present in a person’s system it does not mean the levels impair a driver’s ability. The concern is the equipment only tests the limits in someone’s bloodstream and not the impairment. This is particularly true for people using medical cannabis. Because of the levels they need for medical purposes, their thresholds are higher. CBD can stay in the system for hours and even days after consumption without impairing a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Discriminating Against Patients Using Medical CannabisSenator Saint-Germain expressed concern the legislation discriminated against patients using medical cannabis. She wanted to know if Bill C-46 took these circumstances into consideration. Saint-Germaine said the legislation needs to consider whether it complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Bill C-46 Ignores Fact Cannabis Affects People DifferentlySaint-Germaine also stressed cannabis affects people in different ways. How people take it will impact on a THC and CBD reading, and how long cannabis stays in a person’s system. She pointed out that the legislation meant people would have to wait several days before getting behind the wheel. That they would have to avoid driving while cannabis stayed in their system even if mentally they are not impaired. Senator Andre Pratte supported the legislation in principle due to the problems drugs caused on Canadian roads. But believed the low 2 nanogram threshold needed examining. He felt it criminalised Canadians not impaired by low levels in their bloodstream. This was a particular concern for medical cannabis users. Pratte expressed concern this opens the legislation to court challenges. It passed at the third reading on October 31, 2017.
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