According to the findings of a CAA study released Monday, two-thirds of Canadians are concerned that roads will become more dangerous when marijuana is legalized.
Christine Niemczyk, spokeswoman for CAA Saskatchewan, appeared on the Brent Loucks Show Tuesday morning. She said the study shows a real concern for the legalization process.
“An increase in fear for impaired driving, and a lack of tools and resources for police officers to address impaired driving itself – so they’ve told us they are concerned,” she said.
The CAA-commissioned poll of 2,102 Canadians, conducted by Earnscliffe Strategy Group, found that 26 per cent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 “believe a driver is the same or better on the road under the influence of marijuana.”
Niemczyk said the belief is a “myth” and “misconception” and noted CAA Saskatchewan has met with the province in regards to funding for public education campaigns.
“To debunk some myths out there and to educate all Canadians on the impact marijuana has on driving,” she said.
The group is also lobbying the federal government for further education.
Drug education for drivers has been available for some time. CAA notes marijuana only ranks second to alcohol as the drug most frequently found on drivers involved in crashes and those charged with impaired driving.
“Marijuana is also the most frequent drug found mixed with alcohol usage in vehicle cases,” Niemczyk said. “Those statistics are out there. That’s not a myth, that is reality.”
Niemcyzk noted costs for training police to better detect marijuana use will also need to factored into funding.
“We need to understand more about the drug itself, and its effect on drivers, and when our police force is out there – do they have the training? Do they have the roadside analysis, tests and devices?”
A Conservative senator has introduced legislation that would give police the power to obtain oral swabs or blood samples from drivers to detect THC, the active intoxicant in cannabis.
–With files from the Canadian Press