October 21, 2018

With legal use of recreational cannabis just days away, governments at all levels — federal, provincial and municipal — are scrambling to make sure the proper regulations are in place.

Ontario’s new rules are intended to keep people safe. They state that cannabis must be kept away from children and youth and that drivers must not be under the influence of cannabis in order to keep the roads safe.

The amount of cannabis one can have in a public place is a maximum of 30 grams, which is about one ounce.

The Ontario Cannabis Store will be selling pot online starting on Oct. 17.  The provincial government also aims to permit private retail outlets for cannabis buyers by April 1, 2019.

Medical cannabis is governed by different rules compared to recreational cannabis. Sales of medical cannabis are regulated by the federal government.

The use of medical cannabis must be authorized by a medical professional; rules regarding its use will not change when recreational cannabis becomes legal. The only way to purchase medical cannabis is from a federally licensed producer online, a written order, or over the phone and delivered secure mail. Medical marijuana user may also receive a licence from Health Canada to be able to grow their own medical cannabis on their own.

Ontario’s policies on legalized recreational pot were informed by approaches in other jurisdictions that already legalized cannabis, as well as public health experts, law enforcement, municipalities and business and consumer groups. Ontarians could also share their own views on the legalization of cannabis in a survey.

The surveys’ results showed 86 per cent of people supported the age of 19 as the minimum age to be under the influence; 74 per cent believed that there should be restrictions on where to consume cannabis. About 61 per cent agreed that drug-impaired driving should have stricter penalties and 69 per cent believed that keeping cannabis out of reach of children is mandatory.

Canada’s police forces, at all levels, have been busily training officers to spot all types of impaired drivers before recreational cannabis is legalized.

Using cannabis while driving is illegal and dangerous. Cannabis is like many other drugs; it slows down the user’s reaction time and increases the chances of being in a car accident.

Persons found to be impaired while driving due to any type of drug, including cannabis, can face serious penalties, an immediate licence suspension, financial penalties, possible vehicle impoundment, possible criminal record and possible jail time.

Insp. Mark Crowell of Waterloo Regional Police Service said WRPS is continuing to prepare for the legalization of cannabis by educating its members, as well as the public, on its legal and illegal use, and compliance with the provincial impaired driving standards.

“We are strongly focused on enforcement issues surrounding the legislation, including road safety,” Crowell said. “Our service has been committed to updating and expanding our training to detect drug-impaired drivers through enhanced standardized field sobriety test training and increasing the number of drug recognition enforcement officers.

“We currently have 304 front-line officers trained in standardized field sobriety tests who are able to recognize impairment by alcohol and drug use. We also have 14 drug recognition experts that are specifically trained in impaired-by-drug recognition. We expect to have more trained by the end of 2018. We also plan on increasing RIDE programs throughout the region as part of our commitment to road safety.”

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