SGI is using its monthly traffic spotlight to share information regarding the laws on cannabis and driving.
A spokesperson for SGI, Tyler McMurchy says that because there is zero tolerance in the province many assume that if they ever use cannabis they can't drive because they will always have it in their system but this is not the case. Zero tolerance refers to drivers being able to pass a test from an approved screening device at the roadside. These tests measure saliva and THC does not stay in the saliva as long as it does in blood or urine. Someone who uses on Friday in most cases will not test positive on Sunday.
McMurchy adds that there are cases where if someone is a heavy chronic user every day they will always have some in their saliva but for the vast majority of people who may use recreationally as long as it is outside the 12/24 hour window they shouldn't have to worry about testing positive.
McMurchy says there are some misconceptions out there and sheds light on some key information.
"The other thing that people need to understand about cannabis as well is that police can only conduct those oral fluid tests at the roadside if they have reason to suspect recent cannabis consumption. So if somebody had used it two days ago that suspicion would not exist and police wouldn't be able to conduct that test."
McMurchy discusses one of the main misconceptions surrounding the issue.
"Another misconception that people have is that it's ok to drive after using cannabis and that is not the case. If they are under the influence of cannabis they are not allowed to drive. Just because cannabis is legal, to put it bluntly, it doesn't mean it's ok to drive while high."
According to McMurchy, similar to alcohol, you can use it and use it responsibly but you need to be aware of what the rules are before getting behind the wheel.
Consequences vary for those caught driving under the influence depending on the level of impairment, offense committed such as if there is a collision and if someone is hurt or killed this might result in criminal code charges. In most cases, drivers receive an administrative license suspension, and vehicle impoundment at the roadside, and they must then also attend a driving without impairment class.
In addition, McMurchy says that even if drivers have a prescription for cannabis, just like any other medication that may impair one's ability to operate heavy machinery, they should not get behind the wheel while under the influence.
In a press release from SGI they stated that "In 2021, police in Saskatchewan issued 523 administrative license suspensions to drivers for a fail on a roadside drug screening device or performing poorly on an SFST due to drugs. That’s a sharp increase from the 76 suspensions in that category just two years prior."
SGI has seen a substantial increase in the number of administrative license suspensions related to drug-impaired driving. Although these are not all related to cannabis McMurchy says they suspect a substantial number are.