The Impacts Of Marijuana Legalization Regarding Impaired Driving

According to police services in Edmonton, the amount of arrests involving drivers under the influence of marijuana has increased. However, the increase is lower than had been previously predicted. The development has been labelled as a slight increase, and came about following the outcome of 2019’s first ten months. 2019 found that impaired driving arrests involving cannabis were only five more than that of 2018, which in the grand scheme of things is actually quite low. Following the release, Edmonton police stepped in and stated that they expect the arrest numbers to spike any time now and that the increase has just begun. With edibles hitting the market in the coming months, police say that it is far too early to come to conclusions. 

Many pro-cannabis advocates have claimed that the rise in impaired driving arrests has risen simply because the training, technology, and resources available to officers has improved from 2018. The arrests aren’t higher because of the cannabis being legalized, but rather, because police are getting better at their jobs. For perspective, several reports heading towards city council in the coming days state that over 750 officers that are on frontline duty have been trained on new and improved cannabis legislation. They’ve also been trained to identify and deal with violators and the cannabis legislation itself. 

In May of 2018, in response to the emerging cannabis legislation, Edmonton police requested $1.4 million in funding from the city council. A request that was granted. That money went towards funding impaired driving identification initiatives. It is important to note, however, that Edmonton police did once again request money for further cannabis legislation resources ($3 million), but was denied upright. Instead, they’ll be required to provide updates every quarter to quantify the overall price of cannabis legalization, and whether or not further funding would be beneficial. 

According to Edmonton police reports of 2019’s last quarter, it costs approximately $537 to manage an impaired driver under the influence of cannabis. Six times more expensive than impaired drivers under the influence of alcohol or other similar substances. This is due to the extensive testing police must undergo to prove that the impaired driver is actually impaired. 

These reports will visit the city council in a matter of days, on February 12, 2020.