OTTAWA, Dec. 13, 2016 /CNW/ - Today's release of the McLellan task force report on marijuana legalization confirms there is urgent work to be done to implement a system that will keep Canadians safe on the road, says the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
The report flagged drug-impaired driving as a major concern and said several issues must be tackled urgently in advance of legalization, including public education, better funding for law enforcement, and more research on technology to detect impairment and on the effects of marijuana on driving.
"We're pleased that the task force report mirrors what we recommended on this issue," said Jeff Walker, CAA National vice president of public affairs. "But at the same time, it lays bare how much work needs to be done in the area of marijuana-impaired driving before and after legalization occurs."
CAA calls on the federal government to move immediately to implement several of the task force recommendations on marijuana-impaired driving, including those dealing with public education and investments to get law enforcement ready.
"It's clear from the report that work needs to start immediately in these areas, and that the actual legalization should not be rushed," Walker said. "It's important for the safety of all drivers that we do as much as we can in advance of actual legalization, including proper funding. Federal leadership needs to start now."
CAA polling released this fall shows almost two thirds of Canadians (63 per cent) are concerned that roads will become more dangerous with the legalization of marijuana.
CAA met with the McLellan task force and other government officials to press them to put aside dedicated funding for public education campaigns that debunk myths and educate all Canadians on the impacts marijuana has on driving. CAA also called for clear and meaningful laws that discourage Canadians from choosing to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, and enhanced resources to support law enforcement so Canadians take the law seriously.
In addition to polling, CAA commissioned a study that looks at the priorities provincial and federal governments need to focus on as they prepare to legalize marijuana.
The study, conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, found:
- It could take 18 to 24 months for provincial and territorial governments to implement drugged driving policy.
- There are substantial cost implications associated with training police officers to recognize drugged driving, roadside devices and test analysis, data collection and public education initiatives.
- Public education is required well in advance of legislation.
The full report is available here.
SOURCE Canadian Automobile Association
For further information: Kristine D'Arbelles, Manager, Public Affairs, CAA National, Office: 613-247-0117 ext. 2006, Mobile: 613-796-9404, firstname.lastname@example.org