Almost two thirds of Canadians are concerned that roads will become more dangerous with the legalization of marijuana, says a poll released by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) today.
"We need to make sure that road safety is a top priority as marijuana is legalized," said Jeff Walker, vice-president of public affairs, CAA National. "This is clearly a key issue for Canadians, and they are right to be worried."
The CAA poll found 63 per cent of Canadians worry road safety will decline when marijuana is legalized.
Among the other findings, 26 percent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 believe a driver is either the same or better on the road under the influence of marijuana.
According to a study conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, marijuana impairs the cognitive and motor abilities necessary to operate a motor vehicle and doubles the risk of crash involvement.
"There are a lot of misconceptions out there that marijuana doesn’t affect your driving, or even worse, it makes you a better driver," says Walker. "There need to be significant resources devoted to educating the public in the run-up to – and after – marijuana is legalized."
CAA has met extensively with the federal government to press it to put aside dedicated funding for public education campaigns that debunk myths and educate all Canadians on the impacts marijuana has on driving. CAA is also looking 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.
The federal government has said it will introduce legislation to legalize marijuana in spring 2017. A major report into how the government should legalize marijuana is due at the end of this month.
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 and released today, found:
The full report is available http://caa.ca/drugdriving.
Findings in this news release are based on a CAA poll of 2,012 Canadians. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.2%, 19 times out of 20.
*details provided by Kristine D’Arbelles, CAA National