Bill C-46’s Amendments to Protect Against Marijuana Impairment

The government is in the process of establishing safeguards against marijuana usage for the public’s safety. Bill C-46—an act to amend the Criminal Code—was created to improve responses to alcohol and drug impairment while driving, specifying new regulations that will address drivers who are high on marijuana while operating a vehicle.


Testing for marijuana impairment is challenging. Law enforcement training is going to be increased and new tests are in development to facilitate an enhanced recognition of impairment symptoms. The details surrounding these safeguards have not been released as of yet, so we will have to see how this plays out once marijuana is legalized.

Both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have set their legal age limit for consumption and possession of marijuana at 19. Newfoundland has prohibited public consumption, restricting it to the home or private property. Nova Scotia has also restricted it to homes and private property, as well as leased apartments and designated outdoor public areas. Both provinces have prohibited consumption of marijuana in vehicles.

What to Expect from Bill C-46

The bill aims to deter individuals from engaging in vehicle operation while high on marijuana and essentially, reduce the number of lives that are affected by drug and alcohol impairment. Affected lives include individuals who experience the wrongful death of a loved one and those who suffer life-long injuries at the hands of an irresponsible driver. There is the potential for being high on marijuana to detrimentally affect judgment and reaction time.

According to Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, the Federal Court is waiting for Bill C-46’s amendments to be accepted in the Senate. The bill has two parts, the first relating to the legalization of marijuana, and the second to amend the section of the Criminal Code that relates to driving impairment in any type of conveyance. Part one of Bill C-46 will determine the regulations around the technology that will be used to measure marijuana impairment when the drug becomes legalized sometime this year.

The amendments related to drug-impaired driving include the addition of three new offences for having certain levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) alone or combined with alcohol in your system within two hours of operating a vehicle. According to the Government of Canada’s website, the mandatory penalties for driving while under the influence of marijuana would entail:

  • $1,000 for a first offence
  • Escalated penalties for repeat offences, such as a 30-day imprisonment for a second offence and a 120-day imprisonment for a third or succeeding offence.            

We, at MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law, hope that you do what you can to always be safe on the road. Unfortunately, not everyone is responsible and accidents can happen. During those times, we are here to help.

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