Cannabis & Driving

CAA Launches New National Video Campaign – Do Anything But Drive

According to research from CAA, one-fifth of younger Canadians (20 per cent), aged 18-24 say they have driven high or been in a vehicle with a high driver. The finding points to the need for more public education to make sure everyone understands the risks of driving high.

Gen Z is a very socially conscious generation that understands the dangers of driving drunk, but there is a group of young adults who doesn’t associate the same risky behaviour with smoking cannabis or doing edibles.

Edibles compound the issue since the effects can take longer to manifest, and last longer. This led to CAA’s national video campaign Do Anything But Drive, which carries a simple message for young adults: if you’re going to do edibles, do anything but drive. Plan ahead. Make arrangements for a safe way home, be it a designated driver, a taxi or rideshare, or staying over. Read the full news release here.

Cannabis and Road Safety

Don’t Drive High – A look at cannabis use and impaired driving two years after legalization

Cannabis may be legal in Canada but make no mistake: Driving under its influence is dangerous.

Although it’s been two years since Canada endorsed cannabis for recreational use, CAA’s vice president of public affairs, Ian Jack, says Canadians still have deep misconceptions about cannabis use and driving. A 2018 CAA poll found 86 percent of young Canadians aged 18 to 34 said they wouldn’t drive home after drinking, but 66 percent would drive home after using cannabis.

It’s certainly cause for concern, given that cannabis is the second-most commonly detected substance in impaired driving accidents.

The dangers of driving high

Driving under the influence of cannabis is drug-impaired driving. Under Canada’s Criminal Code, driving any motorized vehicle on public or private property after cannabis use is illegal— whether it’s a car on a highway or an ATV in your own backyard.

Even a small amount increases the likelihood of a crash. Research by McGill University funded by CAA found cannabis slows down reaction time, reduces concentration, impacts ability to stay in a lane, and affects the accuracy of decision-making behind the wheel. The study also found young drivers were at risk of a collision even five hours after inhaling cannabis.

Download Study

Cannabis inforgraphic

The impact of edibles

CAA’s Ian Jack’s current concern is cannabis edibles— consumable products infused with cannabis. When smoked or inhaled, cannabis takes effect quickly. In contrast, edibles can take hours to kick in, and early research shows they impact individuals very differently. “Some people have a brownie and they’re on the floor,” Jack explains. “For other people, there’s barely a buzz.” But many Canadians aren’t aware of these key differences. “Our concern is that someone who does consume an edible, doesn’t feel anything, then decides to go pick up their groceries and becomes impaired on the road,” he says.

Responsible cannabis use

So how long should you wait to drive after using cannabis? Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer yet. The effects of cannabis vary depending on the method of consumption, the quantity consumed, the variety of cannabis used, and the reaction of the person using it. So more research is needed before there’s definitive guidance on safe use. Though studies are now underway, the onus is on individuals to use cannabis responsibly. CAA recommends avoiding driving after using cannabis entirely. Instead, plan ahead: Arrange a designated driver, call a taxi or rideshare, or spend the night.