April 16, 2019 6:00 am
Updated: April 16, 2019 10:34 am

Six-month pot anniversary not showing marked increase in high drivers: Manitoba RCMP

THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

With the six-month anniversary of cannabis legalization looming, law enforcement organizations across the country are looking back at what has – and hasn’t – changed since Oct. 17, 2018.

Manitoba RCMP say the number of pot-impaired drivers hasn’t changed much since before legalization.

“I would say the numbers are relatively stable,” Sgt. Paul Manaigre told 680 CJOB.

“When it was a new issue, I guess the concern was that everyone was going to do it.

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“Now that it’s stabilized and it’s not new anymore, now we’re going back to the norms of people’s consumption behaviour, although it’s certainly more than we want to see out there.”

Manaigre said as time goes on, more and more Manitobans seem to be understanding the laws around pot use, especially transportation of legal cannabis.

You can’t, he said, just buy pot from a store and then drive home with it sitting on the passenger seat.

“It’s no different than alcohol,” he said.

“I think most people are aware what the rules are when purchasing alcohol or beer from a distributor – putting it in the trunk of the vehicle or in a spot that’s inaccessible to the driver. Cannabis is no different.”

READ MORE: Legal pot in Manitoba — here’s a refresher on rules

Fourteen drivers have been charged by RCMP with criminal code offences for impaired driving while suspected of being under the influence of cannabis, he said.

“Compared to the alcohol side, that’s very low, but it’s concerning that people are still exhibiting this behaviour knowing the rules.”

Many of the drivers who are arrested for impaired driving are initially pulled over for another offence, he said, like speeding or not wearing a seatbelt, and then receive pot charges on top.

Manaigre said police resources mean RCMP aren’t out there arresting random drivers willy-nilly.

“When we’re out there, we’re usually going to have reasons to stop the vehicle,” he said. “We’re not just going to blindly pull over a vehicle and make a demand. By the time we’re actually pulling a vehicle over, we may already have suspicions.”

WATCH: As pot legalization looms, concerns remain about drug-impaired driving

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