Fifteen per cent of all cannabis users with a valid licence reported driving within two hours of using. (Unsplash)

Fifteen per cent of all cannabis users with a valid licence reported driving within two hours of using. (Unsplash)

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

Fifteen per cent of all cannabis users with a valid licence reported driving within two hours of using.

This is one of the findings that appears in National Cannabis Survey for the first quarter of 2019.

By way of background, drivers with between two and five nanograms of THC per millimetre of blood can be fined up to $1,000. Drivers with more than five nanograms of THC in their blood will receive a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 for their first offence, a mandatory jail sentence of 30 days for their second offence and a mandatory jail sentence of 120 days on any further offences. In B.C., police can impound a car for 90 days if they “reasonably” suspect that a driver is impaired by drugs. To avoid the impoundment, drivers must pass either a standard field sobriety test or a saliva test at the roadside.

Statistics Canada conducted the survey during the first three months of 2019 after starting it in 2018. As such, the survey offers the first more detailed look at cannabis use among Canadians following legalization.

RELATED: Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

The survey finds cannabis use among Canadians over 15 years of age has increased to 18 per cent from 14 per cent following legalization in October 2018.

While popular culture may associate cannabis use with youth, the survey suggests that middle-aged men between the ages of 45 to 64 have increased their use since legalization. Use among men has risen to 22 per cent from 16 per cent, while use among Canadians aged 45 to 64 has risen by six per cent to 14 per cent. The survey has found no change in use among females or other age groups.

Overall, the survey suggests legalization has had a limited impact on usage patters. More than eight out of 10 Canadians (82 per cent) did not consume cannabis during the first three months of 2019. Six per cent said they consumed cannabis daily or almost daily, the same number of Canadians who reported using one or twice during the last three months. Two per cent are monthly users, while four per cent are weekly users.

These findings are broadly consistent with findings that Canadians are indifferent, even critical towards cannabis, despite legalization.

RELATED: Canadians less certain about cannabis in wake of legalization: survey

The survey, however, suggests that legalization is having its intended effect on sourcing, as more Canadians are purchasing cannabis from legal sources. In 2018, 23 per cent of consumed cannabis came from legal sources, with 51 per cent coming from illegal source. Through the first three months of 2019, 47 per cent came from legal sources, with 38 per cent coming from illegal sources.

(Users could select multiple categories, and the survey does not show the share of cannabis obtained from family or friend, self-cultivation or other sources).


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