Reefer Madness: An Impaired Driving Lawyer Explains Marijuana DUIs

Are you facing allegations of driving while impaired by marijuana or having care or control of a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana? What follows is an overview of the criminality of marijuana in Canada, an outline of what to expect if you’re pulled over for a marijuana-related DUI, and a way to explore some defence options.

The legalization of marijuana was one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s more visible promises of the 2015 Federal Election Campaign and talks have only intensified since his election. Although he continues to maintain that he will fulfill his promises, the existing laws remain in effect and Canadians continue to be charged with possession of marijuana as the government works towards amending the laws.

If you’re facing marijuana-related charges, you deserve answers. And you’re not alone; Canadians between the ages of 14 and 25 have one of the highest rates of recreational use in the world and many of them are reaching out to DUI lawyers in Toronto for help.

With this in mind, the Erickson Law team has assembled a brief tutorial on what to expect when facing DUI charges for recreational marijuana use. Read on to learn more from an experienced impaired driving lawyer in Toronto.

 The Impairing Effects of Marijuana – Why Legalization Doesn’t Matter

Alcohol is legal to consume but that doesn’t protect you from a DUI. Although this may seem obvious, many recreational marijuana users fail to apply this same logic to their drug of choice. Whether or not marijuana is legalized by the federal government, it will remain illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana or any other drug.

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has a number of impairing effects that will negatively impact your driving ability. THC consumption impacts your tracking ability on the road, meaning that those under the influence will have a harder time staying in their lanes and/or perceiving changes in road conditions or the speed of other vehicles.

Whether or not marijuana use is legalized, you’ll need to contact an impaired driving lawyer anytime you’re found driving or being in the care or control of a motor vehicle while under the influence.

 Alcohol and Marijuana-Related DUIs – What’s the Difference?

It is illegal in Canada to operate or have care or control of a motor vehicle while your ability is impaired by alcohol or a drug or both. The punishment for each is the same.  However, the police have to investigate these types differently. This is because the instruments used to test breath samples for alcohol do not work for marijuana or other types of drugs.

There are five known methods of testing for the presence of cannabinoids and THC: blood, urine, hair, saliva, and perspiration. However, these tests can be difficult to administer at roadside, especially because blood concentration tests have been known to produce false negatives and false positives. Consequently, police have devised new ways of confirming suspicions of driving under the influence of marijuana.

 What can I expect from a roadside stop?

If you’re pulled over by a police officer who suspects you of driving while impaired by marijuana or having care or control of a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana, they will look for the following signs:

-Driving too slowly

-Driving in an erratic fashion

-Slurred speech

-Glassy or “bloodshot” eyes

-Impaired cognitive function

-Impaired motor skills

-Olfactory indications of marijuana in the car, such as smoke or the pungent smell of the plant

The Criminal Code of Canada also gives offers the ability to administer a Standardized Field Sobriety Test as per Section 254(2) (a).

Possible Defences from your Impaired Driving Lawyer

If you would like to learn about potential defenses for your impaired driving charges, visit or call (416)-363-3612 to speak directly with John Erickson.