MEDICINE HAT, AB — With cannabis set to be legal on October 17, provinces have been working to amend their impaired driving laws to include cannabis.
The laws vary from province to province.
In Alberta, the provincial government has listed the penalties for driving while high. For the first offence, drivers who are found to be driving while high will receive an immediate 90-day licence suspension and will immediately have their vehicles seized for three days.
Drivers will also have to participate in a mandatory driving course, pay a $1,000 fine, and participate in an ignition interlock program for one year.
For the second offence, the licence will be immediately suspended for 90 days, and there will be mandatory imprisonment for 30 days. Drivers will also have to participate in the driving course and the ignition interlock program.
The third offence will see drivers imprisoned for 120 days, in addition to the mandatory driving course and interlock program participation.
In Saskatchewan, a first offence for driving while high results in a three-day licence suspension, a mandatory driving course, and your vehicle will be impounded for three days, according to the province’s driver’s licensing and vehicle registration agency.
If a driver is charged, their licence will be suspended until the court has disposed of the charge, and their vehicle will be seized for 30 days, with drivers responsible for towing fees. If a driver is also impaired by alcohol and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16, the vehicle seizure will last 60 days.
If convicted, drivers will be fined between $1,250 and $2,500, be forced to take a mandatory driving course, and will receive a minimum one-year driving suspension. The suspension can be in place for a maximum of five years, according to the registry.
Cannabis workers could be barred from entering United States
MEDICINE HAT, AB — It could become more difficult for those working in the cannabis industry to cross the border once cannabis is legalized for recreational use in Canada starting on October 17th.
First reported in Politico and the Toronto Star, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency say they will continue to apply federal drug laws at the border. Those who tell officers they’ve used cannabis are already risking a lifetime ban from entering the United States, and those who work in the cannabis industry or have invested in cannabis companies in Canada could also be turned away.
“I’ve heard stories about people going over the border and having a little trouble, so i guess we’ll wait and see,” says Jay Hern, owner of the Green Exchange in Medicine Hat.
The Green Exchange is getting closer to opening in Medicine Hat on South Railway Street. Hern travels to the United States regularly during the year, and says he’s taking a cautious approach on whether he will travel to the United States.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” he said. “October 17th is coming, and we’ll have to make some choices. We decided to open the store, so maybe we might not be able to go down, so it’s a choice we have to make.”
In the U.S., nine states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington) along with the District of Columbia, have legalized cannabis for recreational use. A total of 31 states allow cannabis to be sued for medical purposes.
However, cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level, meaning people cannot cross the border with the drug.
The Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce is keeping an eye on the news as the date for legalization gets closer.
“Right now, I think there is a lot of uncertainty in terms of how business, trade, investment and travel is going to be treated, when people are travelling into the U.S.,” said Lisa Kowalchuk, executive director with the chamber.
With Medicine Hat to become home to the Aurora Sun facility in 2019, Kowalchuk adds it’s important to ensure protections are in place for workers and companies.
“Our government needs to ensure that there will be a level of fairness and consistency when people are travelling so it doesn’t impede our businesses that are complying with the legal regulations and not impeding impeding their employees,” she said.
People we spoke to in Medicine Hat have differing opinions on cannabis at the border.
“I don’t think that makes much sense, considering there are many states that have legalization of marijuana,” one man said. “Honestly, it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“When you enter into the United States, it says at any border crossing that it is a privilege to enter their country,” one woman added. “If those are their rules, we have to respect that if we want to go there.”