A survey done for Health Canada suggests that 39 per cent of people who admitted to smoking pot say they’ve driven within two hours of smoking up.
Health Canada commissioned the survey, which involved interviewing 3,600 people across the country from March 13, 2017 to May 24, 2017. The survey has a margin of error of 1.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The data, which was posted online by Health Canada earlier this week, comes as the Senate is considering the federal government’s proposed legislation to help police forces deal with drug-impaired drivers.
The survey was conducted last spring when the government was preparing to table legislation not only to regulate the sale of legal marijuana but also toughen up Canada’s impaired driving laws.
Respondents were asked more than 70 questions about whether they used marijuana, when and why. There were also a series of questions around pot use and driving.
The survey shows that among pot users age 20 to 24 years, 43 per cent admit to having gotten behind the wheel within two hours of smoking the substance. For 16-to 19-year-old users, 27.8 per cent of those say they’ve driven under the influence of cannabis.
About half of the users in those two age categories said they had done so within the past 30 days.
Even among non-pot users, more than a quarter have been in a vehicle driven by someone who has used the drug in the past two hours — 27.2 per cent.
When asked if cannabis impairs the ability to drive, about 75 per cent of all respondents said yes.
But among pot users specifically, that number dropped to 50.2 per cent.And among 16- to 19-year-olds, only 41 per cent said they believed cannabis affects their ability to drive.
When all respondents were asked how long a person should wait before driving, the most popular response was “it depends” (35.7 per cent) followed by “don’t know” (23.5 per cent).
Guidelines released earlier this year by a panel of health experts recommend cannabis users wait at least six hours before driving, maybe longer, depending on the specific product used.