Saskatchewan

Sask. probes driver safety amid marijuana legalization plans

Premier Brad Wall has asked the ministers responsible for policing, justice and SGI to examine the implications marijuana legalization will have on driver safety.

Ministers responsible for policing, justice and SGI to examine pot legalization's impact on drivers

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is looking into the implications of marijuana legalization on driver safety in the province.

"I think certainly decriminalization needs to happen," Wall told reporters Wednesday, adding that Saskatchewan has a high incidence of impaired driving.

"We will have legalized marijuana in the country and so we should be prepared to make sure it's implemented as safely as possible." 

Wall made the announcement Wednesday morning. He asked his ministers responsible for Justice, Corrections and Policing and SGI to examine how marijuana legalization will affect drivers and road safety.

Federal task force

The federal government has a task force looking into similar questions around legalizing marijuana. Wall said what the province learns will be passed onto that group.

"We think it's important for us as a province and I think all provinces will make recommendations to the task force about things we can do around awareness and around safety on the highways to ensure safety when legalization occurs," he said.

Justice Minister Gordon Wyant, Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell and SGI Minister Don McMorris will look into laws, law enforcement and public education and prevention around impaired driving due to marijuana use. They'll speak to police and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving as part of the probe.

National standard

The premier said he wants to know more about whether rules will be implemented differently within provinces.

"There's a lot of provincial leeway in terms of impaired driving laws, around the penalty piece, but what will be? Will there be a national standard for the legal limit? That's one of the questions we'll have to explore," he said.

"I think we'd be open to a national standard. We do think there needs to be one, though there isn't right now a standard for this sort of, we fundamentally think. And I think law enforcement needs to know what's the standard? What's the limit in terms of THC in the blood system that would require the penalty piece?"

Wall said it's fortunate that Canada can study lessons learned in Colorado and other places where marijuana has been legalized, and that will be part of Saskatchewan's probe, too.

Wall said he wants to learn more about what's available for police officers when it comes to roadside tests for marijuana use. He said he's heard from police chiefs who are concerned that the country's lawmakers "answer as many questions as possible before legalization."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tory Gillis

Journalist

Tory Gillis began work as a journalist with CBC Saskatchewan in 2012. You can hear her deliver the afternoon news on weekdays on CBC Radio One in Saskatchewan. She has also worked as a reporter, and as an associate producer on CBC Saskatchewan's radio shows, The Morning Edition, Bluesky and The Afternoon Edition.

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