Many are calling for clarification after Saskatchewan introduces zero tolerance drug impaired driving rules

With the holiday season upon us, SGI and law enforcement are united on one thing: tolerance of impaired drivers is zero.

To kick off the month-long focus on impaired driving, SGI is telling drivers to plan a safe ride home.

Last year, 57 people were killed and another 464 injured in collisions involving drugs or alcohol.

“Drunk driving in particular is about 46 per cent of our fatalities and that is really high across Canada in terms of percentage,” Andrew Cartmell, President and CEO of SGI said.

Saskatchewan introduces zero tolerance drug impaired driving rules

While the number of fatalities and injuries linked to impaired driving have decreased over the years, Cartmell says it isn’t enough.

“The issue we have though is that other provinces have seen decreases to a greater extent then what we’ve seen, so we know we can do better,” he said.

While the legal limit is .04, the province proposes zero tolerance legislation for drivers impaired by drugs.

“The science isn’t there yet, I suspect the science will get there,” Cartmell said. “I don’t know how quickly, but until it does we think the prudent thing is zero.”

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Pharmacist Alicia Caytor feels the legislation, as proposed, leaves some questions unanswered.

“However long the medication stays in your body, it can vary from person to person,” Caytor said. “So it’s just really hard to say how long it will stay in the body and potentially cause impairment.”

Caytor says opinions range from six to eight hours, up to 24 hours. For some that means not being able to drive at all.

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“What’s going to happen now when these people aren’t able to go to work?” Stewart Martin, patient consultant and partner at Best Buds Society said.

Best Buds Society is one of several pot dispensaries in Regina. Martin says a blanket approach isn’t the answer.

“We’re dealing with a substance that people use on a daily basis to medicate,” he explained. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are impaired. As you use cannabis on a regular basis you do build up a tolerance to that.”

For now, the Saskatchewan government’s tolerance of pot impaired drivers is zero and it’s unlikely any amount of criticism will change that.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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