“Remember, pot doesn’t impair you,” Emery said. “This idea, one of the many myths I have to clear out in the next 18 months, is that pots impairs you. Marijuana makes you more self-aware of your situation, so you’ll be a better driver if you smoke pot regularly.”
Introduced last Thursday, the new law would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.
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New penalties for offences would range from a simple police citation to 14 years behind bars.
The legislation would also permit people to grow up to four plants per residence for personal use, as well as make legal cannabis-containing products at home.
But law enforcement agencies in Canada and safety experts are warning incidents of drug-impaired driving could rise.
Data from Toronto police indicates, however, that drugged driving in Canada’s most populous city represents a fraction of overall impaired-driving arrests, while alcohol impairment remains number one, with 1290 arrests in 2016.
Const. Clint Stibbe said about a dozen officers are being trained each month in field sobriety testing, with about 200 already trained in the area.
In response to Emery’s comment on how marijuana makes you a better driver, Stibbe said on Monday “the research indicates he is wrong.”
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The force is also expanding its team of drug-recognition evaluators — officers who interview and further test individuals who have been arrested on suspicion of drugged driving.
Several police forces across the country, including in Toronto, are currently conducting tests on roadside drug devices in an attempt to find the right tool to catch drug-impaired drivers.
Toronto police released preliminary data from the program that showed of the 208 people they tested — who were volunteers, because legislation would have to be passed to use the devices — nine tested positive for drugs.
Four tested positive for cocaine, while three tested positive for marijuana.
The federal government said the plan is to have a legalized-pot system in place by the end of June 2018.
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— With files from the Canadian Press