The government of Saskatchewan is adopting a zero-tolerance stance on drug-impaired driving, according to newly introduced legislation.
This marks the province’s first cannabis-related decree as it prepares for Canada-wide recreational legalization next summer.
"In Saskatchewan it is currently and will continue to be illegal to drive while impaired whether by drugs or alcohol," said Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for SGI, in a news release. "That is not changing, even when personal cannabis use becomes legal in July."
"If somebody's impaired, I don't care if they're impaired by prescription drugs, by illegal drugs or legal drugs - cannabis, whatever. Impaired driving is impaired driving and we cannot have impaired drivers on the road.”
Saskatchewan residents will not be permitted to drive with any level of cannabis in their system that is detectable by a federally approved screening device.
Hargrave said the proposed regulations will better equip police officers to get convictions for drug-impaired driving, courtesy of new roadside devices that will be able to test saliva for cannabis use. Police will be able to access these devices once the federal government introduces its own drug-impaired driving laws, he said.
"Our government is sending a clear message, while cannabis may soon be legal, driving under the influence is illegal, dangerous to public safety, and will be dealt with harshly," Hargrave said.
"Bottom line – driving impaired by drugs or alcohol is a bad idea, with serious consequences."
The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (not just cannabis) will more-or-less mirror those imposed on drunk drivers in the province. Government officials say this is what Saskatchewan residents demanded in a recent cannabis survey.
The government of Saskatchewan has yet to finalize its plans for the sale and distribution of cannabis once legalization rolls out across the country on July 1, 2018.
h/t CBC News