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If you’re not already aware, Canada is planning for the legalization of Marijuana on July 1, 2018. While much of the attention has been on who and where you will be able to buy it, there are other conversations to be had. One important question is what will be the impact of marijuana and insurance? Will insurance rates go up? How will police enforce driving laws? What will punishments be? While many laws will need modernization and updates, slowly, governments at all levels are setting the stage. Ontario recently announced new road laws related to marijuana. Meanwhile, insurance companies are reviewing their own policies. This article will seek to answer as many marijuana and insurance questions as we can – and will be updated in the future to answer more!

Please note – this article does not constitute legal advice or guarantee 100% accuracy. We’ve done our best to answer the questions that people are asking, but until more information comes out – we don’t know for sure. We will update this article in the future with more current information.

Will I be able to drive after having used marijuana?

The answer to this question is yes and no. This is because similar rules to drinking will apply. G-licensed drivers with a minimal amount of THC in their system will be permitted. In the United States, the most commonly accepted number is 5 nanograms. It is unclear if that will be the amount permitted in Canada. In Ontario, if you are a young (under 21) or inexperienced driver, you are NOT allowed to drive with marijuana in your system. Also, there are rules proposed for anyone driving for business that prohibit marijuana in your system.

What are the effects of marijuana on driving?

The Canadian Public Health Association lists the following effects of drug use:

  • Concentration Issues. Under the influence of drugs, focusing on something can be harder to do. This is an immediate problem for drivers as it requires complete focus.
  • Slow Reactions. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reduces a person’s reaction time. This can be life-threatening if you need to react to changing road conditions or to respond to other drivers.
  • Eyesight Problems. A driver under the influence of marijuana may struggle to determine distance or depth. This can be problematic as it relates to vehicles and other structures around the road.
  • A Difficulty with Time. Judging timing is more difficult under the influence.
  • Hyper focus. While it sounds like a positive thing, when driving it is the opposite. Hyper focus leads to a focus on a ‘stream of thought’ and living in the ‘here-and-now’ rather than analyzing what is going on around you.

How do I know if I have used too much marijuana to drive?

Always err on the side of caution. If you’re not sure, don’t drive! Consider alcohol use. You don’t truly know what your blood-alcohol content might be, but if you’ve been drinking – you don’t drive. That is the same advice you should follow for marijuana usage.

What happens if I am stopped by police and have used marijuana?

If you are stopped by police, be honest. Police are right now being trained on new roadside drug testing kits that will screen for marijuana usage. They perform similarly to blood-alcohol content tests. If you are tested above the legal limit, you may face license suspensions, fines, and other punishments.

What kind of roadside drug testing is there?

Currently, several pilot programs are taking place to test the efficacy and usability of several devices. In most cases, the roadside drug tests involve collecting a saliva sample from someone they suspect as being under the influence. These devices, while effective for Marijuana, will also check for cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. You can read more about the pilot program here.

What are the possible punishments for driving under the influence of marijuana?

Ontario has proposed the following punishments for DUI, including marijuana usage.

  • Young (under 21) or inexperienced drivers (G1, G2, M1, M2) must be completely sober if driving. Failing that, punishments could include a 30-day licence suspension and a fine between $250 and $450.
  • Commercial drivers must also be 100% sober. Punishment includes a 3-day licence suspension and a fine between $250 and $450.
  • Any driver outside of this, who fail a roadside test will get a fine between $250 and $450. If you refuse the test, the fine increases to $550.

If you are convicted, you could face a DUI, which is a very serious offense. Having a DUI on your record will result in being classified as a high risk driver. This comes with extra complications including expensive high risk insurance. If you have already been convicted of a DUI, you already know how expensive insurance can be. To see if you could save money on high risk insurancesubmit a quote with isure. We compare the rates of the top insurance companies in Ontario to find you the best policy for the best price.

Will being a marijuana user increase my insurance rates?

Right now, the answer is ‘unlikely’ but it is possible. While no insurer has said what they plan to do yet, there is precedent in the United States. In States where marijuana use has been legalized, there has been no increase in car insurance rates. But, what does impact your insurance rates is driving convictions. Being found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) will result in your car insurance premiums increasing.

Are all the laws in place for marijuana and insurance?

As of the publishing of this article (October 2017), the laws are not currently set. As such, things are likely to change as we know more about how local, provincial and federal governments will regular marijuana usage. Ontario has suggested some driving laws will be updated as a catchall for Drug and Alcohol. You can read those proposed laws here. Federally, as they move forward with legalization they will also introduce new laws.

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