Saskatchewan

Sask. RCMP have laid 7 cannabis-related impaired driving charges since legalization

Saskatchewan RCMP say they have laid just seven charges of suspected cannabis-related impaired driving since legalization.

596 alcohol-related impaired driving charges laid in same time period

Impaired driving was a top concern for police around the country when it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana. (CBC News)

Saskatchewan RCMP say they have laid only seven charges of suspected cannabis-related impaired driving since recreational marijuana became legal on Oct. 17.

Impaired driving was a top concern around legalization for police across the country.

As a response, many police forces have increased their resources and training to deal with drivers who get behind the wheel after consuming marijuana.

But so far those concerns have been more smoke than flame for RCMP in Saskatchewan.

"The numbers are a little bit lower than I would expect," said Cpl. Rob King, spokesperson for Saskatchewan RCMP. King noted that RCMP laid almost 600 alcohol-related impaired driving charges in the same amount of time.

However, King says concerns around impaired driving relating to cannabis, or any other drug, are warranted.

"I think the public education was one of the reasons why we probably have such a low number," he said.

"I think there's high level of concern of people driving after they've consumed anything that could affect or impair their level of driving," said Cpl. Rob King, spokesperson for Saskatchewan RCMP. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

"We've taken a great deal of steps to educate [officers] on how to look for the signs of being impaired by cannabis or any other type of drugs."

RCMP currently has 83 drug recognition experts (DRE) in Saskatchewan, according to King, who are specially trained to assess the suspected type of drug someone may have consumed and the level of impairment.

Saliva testing kits known as the Draeger Drug Test 5000 are also being spread out to RCMP detachments around the province, said King.

He also said RCMP won't be changing their strategy around impaired driving involving cannabis despite the low number of charges.

"I think there's high level of concern of people driving after they've consumed anything that could affect or impair their level of driving," said King.

"It's something that's a problem across the country. It's something that's a problem across the world. So I think police will constantly be faced with that problem and will constantly be battling with it."

Low number of charges, if any, in Regina

Regina has also seen few, if any, impaired driving charges related to cannabis.

"I don't have numbers but I'll use the word low, like we have not laid a lot of impaired driving charges," said Regina police Chief Evan Bray after last week's Board of Police Commissionaires meeting.

"In fact, I don't think we've laid any impaired driving charges as a result of cannabis. We've had multiple as a result of alcohol, none as a result of cannabis."

He said police have addressed complaints of people consuming cannabis in public, but those have been dealt with through "communication and education," he said.

"I would say it has been a very positive few months as we step into this new era of legislation legalize cannabis."

He said Regina police are continuing to train officers on federal and provincial cannabis laws and how they apply.

About the Author

Cory Coleman is a reporter, web writer and associate producer for CBC Saskatchewan. Have a story idea? Email cory.coleman@cbc.ca

With files from Alec Salloum