Medical cannabis patient fighting driving with pot charges

Oct 31 2018, 1:11 am

A medical cannabis patient from Victoria was issued a fine and temporarily barred from driving after a traffic stop last week.

On October 26, a 38-year old male was pulled over during a routine traffic stop, which resulted in a $230 fine and a 24-hour driving prohibition.

“The officers questioned our client as to whether he had consumed alcohol or drugs and he answered that he had not consumed either of those substances,” Sarah Leamon, a criminal defence lawyer at Leamon Roudette Law Group told Daily Hive over the phone.

Leamon’s client did identify himself as a medical cannabis patient.

“He was asked to exit the vehicle and had to perform standardized field sobriety tests,” said Leamon.

“We don’t know exactly what the results of those tests were but the officer, on the basis of the performance, issued him with the 24-hour prohibition for drugs under the Motor Vehicle Act.”

Leamon said that according to her client, the officer on the scene located cannabis residue on the dash of the vehicle, which her client is disputing.

Canada’s driving laws prohibit a person from having cannabis in a vehicle unless it’s from a licensed producer (LP), is still in the original sealed package, and in an area that is not accessible by the driver or passengers.

“Under the medical marijuana program, you can carry cannabis with you at all times to manage your condition. When you step into a motor vehicle how are we going to interpret that?” said Leamon.

“Medical marijuana users who have existed for so many years and have been responsibly consuming cannabis to manage their medical conditions are now going to find themselves under the scrutiny of police and targeted by police and issued these kinds of violation tickets that they otherwise would not have received but for legalization now.”

Leamon noted that while her client was not charged under the criminal code, he could still face harsh consequences such as a spike in insurance rates or a costly remedial course, and it can take up to 12 months before he gets a court date.

“There is going to be a certain degree of uncertainty with respect to these laws at this point because they have not been litigated,” said Leamon, who expects to see an increase in challenges against cannabis-impaired driving charges.

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