MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – If you have a commercial driver’s licence, you might want to think twice before you spark up this summer.
That is the message the Ministry of Transportation’s Joe Lynch told an audience at a timely presentation at Truck World on April 20 (known officially as 420 Day).
Lynch said during a presentation that even though recreational marijuana is being legalized across Canada this summer, not much is known about how officers will enforce it on the road, especially as it concerns commercial truck drivers.
Right now, Lynch said that commercial drivers can expect a zero-tolerance approach. As revealed in December 2017 by the Ontario government, commercial drivers cannot have the presence of any drugs and/or alcohol in their system.
What the problem is, Lynch said, is what is a commercial driver?
“We’re talking about commercial driver, but we do not yet have a definition of commercial driver,” he said. “Reason for that is I’m a commercial driver. But I drove here in my Acura today. So now what? If I (hypothetically) have THC in my blood, what does that mean? Does the zero-tolerance apply to commercial drivers who are driving a commercial vehicle at the time? That would make sense.”
But this isn’t defined yet, Lynch said.
Another thing that’s unclear is how officers will be measuring impairment. According to the stricter laws on impaired driving that was rolled out in December, impairment is to be measured by a federally approved screening device.
“You ask the feds, and they don’t have this device yet,” he said. “So we are relying on the feds to do something because the way cannabis digests in your body is completely different than alcohol. Alcohol is really easy to track in the bloodstream. You get a number – 0.05 or 0.08 – and at that point, people are impaired. That’s an easy regime. But with cannabis, it’s different. It gets in your body and sticks to proteins in your body and sticks to your muscles.”
In Colorado, a state that has legalized recreational marijuana for years, government still hasn’t figured out a way to legally measure impairment, Lynch said.
“The saliva test they use doesn’t work,” he said. “What’s happening is they say impairment is 0.02 THC per 100 ml of blood. So they pull you over, suspect you’re impaired, check your saliva and the test will read 0.07.”
At that point, they’ll do a full sobriety test, and most pass with flying colors and are allowed to drive off.
“And this is the problem,” he said. “Because are you impaired or not? You can’t just throw a number at marijuana.”
In conclusion, Lynch said: “We have to do something quick, because soon, we’re going to be in a election mode and we’re going to have a new government and then it’ll be legalized and we’ll have no laws in place.”