New Laws for Cannabis Impaired Driving

Folks, here’s the sticky icky on Bill C45 and Bill C46, collectively the proposed Cannabis legislation.

Will the Cannabis Act Come into Force and Effect this Summer?

The legislation is currently at the Senate stage. Amendments are expected before it returns to the House. Therefore, legalization this summer is highly unlikely. And remember, legalization does not decriminalize the sale, possession and use of Cannabis. Professional consultation is recommended.

Drug-Impaired Driving – Nanograms and Blood/Drug Concentrations

The proposed changes to the Criminal Code include three new driving offences based on blood/drug concentrations (“drug” is not just THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis – but also GHB and others including psilocybin, heroin, and cocaine). Regulation would set the permitted levels. For THC the proposed levels would be:

  •  2 nanograms (NG) but less than 5 ng of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving would be a separate summary conviction criminal offence, punishable only by a fine of up to $1,000, with no minimum sentence. This lower level offence is considered a “precautionary approach”, which invokes significant Charter issues that the Federal government, itself, already recognizes.
  • 5 NG or more of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving would be a hybrid offence. Hybrid offences are offences that can be prosecuted either by summary conviction or by indictment, which is considered a more serious offence.
  • Combined THC and Alcohol: Having a blood alcohol concentration of 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, combined with a THC level greater than 2.5 ng per ml of blood within two hours of driving. Also a hybrid offence.

Offences, Fines, and Penalties

Initially, at least, both hybrid offences would be punishable by mandatory penalties of $1,000 for a first offence and escalating penalties for repeat offenders (e.g., 30 days imprisonment on a second offence and 120 days on a third or subsequent offence). These maximum penalties mirror the existing maximum penalties for impaired driving. However, this legislation is being rolled out in parts, and under Part 2 the maximums would increase to two years less a day on summary conviction (up from 18 months), and to 10 years on indictment (up from 5 years). The latter would make a dangerous offender application possible in appropriate circumstances.


For all your Cannabis Law Related Inquiries, Contact Tony Oliver at 780-758-8475.