21% of Albertans unsure how cannabis edibles affect driving: AMA survey

Click to play video: 'Police express concerns about cannabis edible legalization'
Police express concerns about cannabis edible legalization
WATCH: (Oct. 18) With the legalization of marijuana edibles, RCMP Cpl. Richard Nowak and Edmonton police Sgt. Robert Davis share concerns about the legalization of edibles – Oct 18, 2019

Nearly a quarter of Albertans polled were unsure about how cannabis edibles impact driving, a survey conducted this fall by the Alberta Motor Association has found.

“The fact is, just like other forms of cannabis, they affect your reaction time, attention span, coordination and decision-making — virtually everything required to drive,” said Jeff Kasbrick, AMA’s vice-president of government and stakeholder relations.

“It’s just not worth the risk to get behind the wheel if you consume.”

The survey was conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 11 and polled 1,818 AMA members.

The results showed 21 per cent of Albertans surveyed said they’re unsure of edibles’ effect on driving and 26 per cent don’t know how the risks compare to smoking or vaping cannabis.

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Twenty-four per cent of those surveyed said they don’t think edibles are riskier than smoked or vaped cannabis, while 45 per cent assume edibles pose the same risk as smoked or vaped cannabis.

Five per cent of Albertans surveyed said they think edibles are safer than consuming cannabis in the other forms.

“What’s most important is we recognize a high is a high — whether it’s a high that results from the consumption of edible cannabis or a high because you’ve smoked or vaped that product,” Kasbrick said.

“We need to be recognizing that as the same and making sure that we’re doing all we can to be safe when we’re behind the wheel, and that means creating an alternate plan and having someone else there to make sure we can get home safely.”

The AMA is worried about the gap in public awareness, especially with holiday season in full swing and edibles expected on shelves as early as mid-December.

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Cannabis producers in Edmonton hope for smoother process for edible legalization

Kasbrick recalls there was a similar concern with public awareness around cannabis and driving just over a year ago.

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“We were dealing with the introduction of legal cannabis in Canada, and along with that came a number of myths and misconceptions about the impact that cannabis has on your ability to drive,” Kasbrick said.

“Now, as we’re getting ready to see legal edibles available in Canada, we thought it was very important for us to understand whether those same myths and misconceptions extended towards edible cannabis as much as it did for cannabis when it’s smoked or vaped.

“What we found is that there still is some uncertainty and we still need to be having this conversation about the importance of separating any cannabis use from getting behind the wheel.”

A 2019 CAA study in Ontario found 72 per cent of cannabis users drove within three hours of consuming the drug, while 27 per cent admitted they still felt high when they got behind the wheel.

The AMA says Alberta has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the country at 20 per cent. As such, the group is hoping to get the word out about not driving if you’ve consumed edibles.

“The onset of that high and the impact you have may be a little bit delayed from what you may have experienced with smoking or vaping of cannabis,” Kasbrick said.

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“Smoking or vaping… is a little bit more of an immediate impact that you may experience. However, edible cannabis takes a little longer and that high extends for a longer period of time.”

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