Alberta campaign tries to break hazy marijuana myths

The Alberta Motor Association has launched a campaign, along with NAIT students, to dispel myths surround marijuana use and driving. File/ The Canadian Press

The Alberta Motor Association has teamed up with post-secondary students to end myths surrounding pot use and driving.

The AMA – along with the NAIT Students’ Association and Alberta Students’ Executive Council – has launched the new campaign as consumption is set to become legal on Oct. 17.

READ MORE: Edmonton police expect to test thousands of suspected high drivers each year

The campaign aims to break myths such as cannabis not negatively impacting driving performance and pot use improving a driver’s ability behind the wheel.

AMA said with marijuana legalization fast approaching, these myths can’t go unchecked.

“Today we’re sharing a simple message with all Albertans: if you’re high, don’t get behind the wheel,” Jeff Kasbrick, AMA vice-president of government and stakeholder relations, said. “Cannabis affects your reaction time, attention span, coordination and decision-making — virtually everything that’s required to drive.”

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A new website has been launched as part of the initiative that provides information about the dangers of driving while high. The campaign also includes videos, infographics, an interactive quiz and social media posts designed to garner attention to the issue.

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“Students have their lives and careers in front of them,” NAITSA president Naomi Pela said. “It would be tragic for someone to ruin their prospects with an impaired driving charge – or worse, ruin someone else’s prospects with one bad decision.”

A Statistics Canada report suggests one in seven marijuana users with a driver’s license have driven a vehicle within two hours of consuming the drug.

READ MORE: New roadside test to detect marijuana coming to Canada

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould approved the Drager DrugTest 5000 roadside test to check for drugs in August.  The saliva-screening equipment will be used by police to test for the main psychoactive agent in cannabis, THC.

The equipment will be made available to police forces across the country, although it will be up to police to decide which testing equipment they want to use.

READ MORE: Edmonton police still undecided on marijuana roadside testing equipment

Edmonton police said they haven’t decided whether officers will use the new roadside test.

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Edmonton’s police Chief Rod Knecht said they have “very few” of the devices and officers will be testing them out. He added there are a lot of complications and there are concerns about its accuracy.

Edmonton police said they expect to test as many high drivers as they do those impaired by alcohol, which is about 4,000 each year.


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