Ministers to Examine Impaired Driving Implications of Marijuana Legalization

GOVTPremier Brad Wall announced today that he has asked Justice Minister Gordon Wyant, Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell and SGI Minister Don McMorris to examine the implications on driver safety of the federal government’s plan to legalize marijuana.

“The federal government has said marijuana legalization is coming but I don’t think we have clear answers on the potential effects on driver safety and what the plan is to prevent impaired driving due to marijuana use,” Wall said.  “There are still too many accidents and deaths due to drunk drivers and all governments are taking steps to crack down on that.  Legalizing marijuana could certainly mean more impaired drivers, which no one wants.

“Right now, there isn’t a clear standard for what constitutes impairment and there isn’t a roadside test like there is for drunk driving,” Wall said.  “These are the kinds of issues that need to be sorted out before the federal government makes marijuana use legal.

“I’ve asked the three ministers to work together, with their officials and with key stakeholders to recommend how we can ensure that the federal government’s legalization of marijuana doesn’t lead to more deaths and injuries on Saskatchewan roads.”

The federal government recently established a Task Force to look at the legal and regulatory issues surrounding marijuana legalization.  Wall said the findings and recommendations of the three Saskatchewan ministers will be submitted to the federal Task Force.

The ministers will focus on three priority areas: legal framework, enforcement, and public education and prevention.  Wall said he expects the ministers will look at the experience in other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana and will talk to law enforcement officials and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Drinking and Driving, and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

“The Prime Minister has indicated that the federal government will release its plan for legalization next spring,” Wall said.  “We need to do our work now to ensure that when it happens, the safety of Saskatchewan drivers and passengers is protected.”

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