Nearly half of cannabis users say they have driven while impaired
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, October 4, 2018 10:26AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 4, 2018 12:21PM EDT
Cannabis won’t be legal for nearly two weeks but a new poll is already raising concerns about the number of people who use the drug and then get behind the wheel.
The poll of 1,000 Ontario residents who own, lease or drive a vehicle was commissioned by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) and conducted by Ipsos in July.
It found that among current cannabis users, 48 per cent admitted to driving while under the influence of the drug at least once.
The poll also found that half of those who admitted to driving while under the influence of cannabis believed that they drive as effectively (31 per cent) or more effectively than a sober driver (19 per cent).
“This study really told us that a considerable number of Ontarians who are cannabis users are getting behind the wheel. In the past three months, it is estimated that about 750,000 Ontarians were getting behind the wheel (after consuming cannabis),” Elliott Silverstein, CAA’s manager of government relations, told CP24 on Thursday morning. “It is a staggering number.”
The poll found that men were more likely than woman to have admitted to driving while under the influence of cannabis (69 per cent). It also found that a significant number of novice drivers who identified as cannabis users admitted to getting behind the wheel after using the drug (39 per cent of those with a G1 or G2 licence).
Perhaps, most troublingly, the survey also found that 28 per cent of current cannabis users said that they drove a vehicle while under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana sometime in the past three months.
“This is a concern for us. People will say they can handle one drink or they can handle smoking a bit of cannabis before they get behind the wheel but it is the impact of two together and not necessarily understanding the causal impact of that,” Silverstein said.
In addition to questioning respondents about their past use of cannabis, the poll also attempted to gauge the opinion of respondents about the legalization of the drug on Oct. 17.
It found that while 58 per cent of respondents either strongly or somewhat support the legalization of the drug, many have concerns about the impact it will have on road safety.
About 39 per cent of respondents said they were very concerned about the impact on road safety while another 38 per cent said they were somewhat concerned. Only five per cent of respondents said they were not at all concerned.
Concerns about the impact of legalization on road safety was the highest among non-Cannabis users (86 per cent were very concerned or somewhat concerned), though the majority of cannabis users also expressed trepidation (59 per cent were very concerned or somewhat concerned).
“When we go forward public education is going to be so critical and that is really what we need to do,” Silverstein said.