An Ipsos-Nanos poll released today shows most Canadians believe driving under the influence of cannabis should be treated the same under the law as driving under the influence of alcohol. Sixty percent of respondents agreed 'strongly' to the statement that driving while impaired by alcohol or by marijuana should be treated equally under the law, while another 20% said they 'somewhat' agree.
The poll also shows no consensus on the subject, though. Nearly 20% of respondents said they don't believe driving 'high' on cannabis to be impaired driving. Only 12% of respondents said the same about alcohol. The report also shows one in three Millennials don't consider driving while high on marijuana to be impaired driving.
"While eight in ten (83%) ‘agree’ (54% strongly/29% somewhat) that they’re personally concerned about the issue of drunk driving, only seven in ten (71%) ‘agree’ (42% strongly/29% somewhat) that they’re personally concerned about the issue of driving while high on marijuana."
Another 25% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that driving stoned is 'more acceptable' than driving drunk. 47% of those who say they have driven high say it's not as bad as driving drunk. Only 10% of respondents admitted to driving while high, with men (15%) being more likely than women (5%) to report this. Millennials are also less likely to see it as a problem than older Canadians.
Those in Ontario and Quebec were more likely than their western neighbours to say they felt that driving while impaired by alcohol or by marijuana should be treated equally under the law in Canada. Sixty two percent of those in Ontario and 65% in Quebec 'strongly agreed', with percentages declining in MB/SK (57%), AB (55%) and BC (53%). Atlantic Canada, polled as one, strongly agreed 60% of the time.
Interestingly, households with children were more likely to say they didn’t consider driving stoned to be ‘impaired driving’ and twice as likely to say they had driven a vehicle while they were high enough to have been considered impaired. 17% of those with kids responded yes to this question, with 8% of those without kids answering no. While 85% of respondents with kids said they considered driving while high impaired driving, only 67% of households with kids agreed.
The poll was conducted online with a sample of 1,000 people.
Cannabis impaired driving is one of the major issues the government and law enforcement have expressed concern over as the country moves to legalize cannabis for adult use. However, a benchmark for how to measure and determine impairment remains debated. The recent Task Force report noted, among other things, that cannabis-impaired driving is more complex to study than alcohol-impaired driving and that measuring THC levels in the bloodstream, as is done to determine alcohol impairment, is not as accurate a measure of impairment for cannabis.
The RCMP have recently announced a pilot program to test roadside drug impaired driving detection devices. Public Safety Canada has also said they are preparing for an expected increase in enforcement against marijuana-impaired drivers after legalization.
Read more on the Ipsos-Nanos poll here.
Featured image via wikimedia.org