Metrolinx continues to share Presto users’ data without requiring warrants


Law enforcement officers are increasingly seeking access to personal information stored on transit riders’ Presto fare cards, with requests for the data spiking by 47 per cent in 2018 compared to the year before.

And while Metrolinx, the provincial agency that controls Presto, only acceded to a minority of the requests, in 22 instances related to law enforcement investigations or suspected offences the agency divulged card users’ information without requiring a warrant or court order, a practice that has troubled rights groups since its was first exposed by the Star two years ago.

“Broadly, the concern is that it’s very important that a mass transit system, a public transit system, doesn’t become a system of mass surveillance,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s privacy, technology and surveillance project.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said in a statement the agency “appropriately balances the commitment to protecting the privacy of Presto card users and maintaining the safety and security of the transit system and its passengers.”

“Staff believe that the current process and policy provides the level of oversight and rigour that is required,” she said.

The figures on Presto information requests are contained in Metrolinx’s second annual report on its privacy policy, which will be discussed at the agency’s board meeting Thursday.

The report shows:

While experts agree that warrants shouldn’t be required in exigent circumstances such as when a rider is believed missing, McPhail said in other cases Metrolinx should require a warrant.

“A warrant provides people with the assurance that the validity of the request from a law enforcement body has been judicially reviewed” and that fulfilled requests “have reached a threshold that’s been adjudicated by a judge and not just a transit employee,” said McPhail, whose organization has formally provided feedback to Metrolinx on its privacy policy.

McPhail said that while Metrolinx is taking positive steps such as publishing the annual report and regularly reviewing its policy, there is a “big hole” in its reporting because the agency doesn’t say how many fulfilled requests lead to a successful outcome, such as charges being laid against someone suspected of a crime. She argued publishing that information would help determine whether law enforcement requests for Presto data are generally reasonable.

Aikins said the outcomes of fulfilled requests are out of Metrolinx’s control and consequently it doesn’t track them, but “we do know internally” that sharing Presto data has helped find missing transit users.

Aikins said Metrolinx will share Presto information without a warrant under certain conditions, such as when “there is a reasonable basis to believe that an offence has occurred” on Metrolinx’s property, such as if a rider assaults a GO Transit bus driver.

In those instances, the agency “will limit the amount of information it discloses to what is relevant and necessary relating to the specific offence,” she said.

According to the report, Metrolinx disclosed customers’ Presto travel records 32 times, and shared registered information such as their name and address 20 times. Because information was shared in only 35 instances, the numbers indicate that in some cases both a cardholder’s travel information and name and address were shared.

The report says Metrolinx rejected requests or asked that they be modified for reasons that included the request being too broad.

In most cases, law enforcement asked for information in relation to a suspected offence committed on transit system property, but in cases where the suspected offence took place elsewhere, Metrolinx requested a court order. The agency also requested a warrant when officers asked for financial transaction information.

The requests were made by Metrolinx transit officers and police forces in Durham, Peel, Toronto, York Region, Hamilton, South Simcoe, Waterloo, Ottawa and Montreal.

The report doesn’t break down on which Ontario transit system the Presto cards that were subject of the requests were used, but more than half of trips paid for with the fare card are on the TTC.

Metrolinx committed to publishing an annual report on law enforcement requests for Presto data in December 2017, after the Star revealed the agency had been quietly sharing customer data with police.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek referred questions about Metrolinx sharing Presto data to the office Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones.

A spokesperson for Jones said: “Protection of privacy is an important priority for this government. Any decision to share information would be done directly with a police service.”

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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Police arrest Toronto man for allegedly extorting Ashley Madison users – Toronto


A 48-year-old Toronto man is facing charges after allegedly attempting to extort two men he contacted through Ashley Madison, the online dating service.

In two separate investigations, police believe Michael Malentin used the Toronto-based site, known to connect people who are married or in relationships, to meet with men from whom he would later demand money.

Toronto Police Cst. David Hopkinson told Global News Radio 640 Toronto that the first investigation involved a 58-year-old man, who was coerced into a meeting with an online personality using the name “Svenita.”

READ MORE: Toronto has the highest number of users registered for Ashley Madison in Canada

“At the meeting, he was approached by a man who indicated that the woman, identified as Svenita, was an underage girl and that she was in some way associated to organized crime.”

Hopkinson said he was then threatened with exposure if he didn’t hand over a sum of money.

WATCH: Stolen vehicle with baby inside located: Toronto police

Nine months later, investigators came in contact with a 64-year-old, who used the site to share personal information with someone using the online profile “SarahMickeyKay.”

The victim later arranged to meet the person he befriended online, when he was also met by the suspect who indicated that “SarahMickeyKay” was an underage girl.

Police investigate sexual extortion case involving game ‘Fortnite’

Maletin is charged with two counts of extortion and two counts of wearing a disguise with intent.

Investigators have released a photo of the accused, believing there may be more victims.

Anyone with information pertaining to the case is asked to contact police at 53 Division, or Crime Stoppers anonymously.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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TTC executives say they may have been overestimating for years how many rides Metropass users were taking


The TTC’s elimination of the Metropass program at the end of this month will mark a big change for Toronto commuters, who have been using the card to travel the transit system since 1980.

But the end of the Metropass, which is being phased out in favour of the new Presto fare-card system, might also shed light on a question that’s vexed the transit agency in recent years: the TTC’s official numbers show that transit ridership is declining, so why do the network’s buses, streetcars and subways seem just as crowded as ever?

According to TTC executives, the answer could be that the Metropass program has artificially inflated ridership counts for years, and there has been no significant decline at all.

“I don’t think that people are actually riding less. So therefore, it does beg the question about how we were counting (riders),” said Dan Wright, the TTC’s chief financial officer, in an interview.

The official numbers suggest that, like other transit agencies across the continent, the TTC is struggling to attract customers. Last year, the agency counted about 533 million riders, down from 538 million the year before. The TTC is on track to have about 2 per cent fewer riders this year than in 2017.

The falling numbers, which have come even as Toronto’s population is increasing, have alarmed public transit advocates. Possible contributing factors the TTC has identified include the rise of ride-hailing services, low gasoline prices and sluggish employment growth.

Traditionally, the TTC has used a variety of methods to determine how many riders use its system. The agency physically counts transit tokens, while tickets, which can’t be counted as easily, are weighed. The agency also performs visual passenger counts, and has installed automated counting devices on some vehicles.

According to Wright, “the biggest single source of uncertainty” has always been Metropasses, which account for about 40 per cent of ridership.

The passes allow users unlimited travel on the TTC for a calendar month at a single price, which this year was set at $146.25. The agency is forced to estimate how many trips each pass-holder takes, which it does by conducting interviews and diary studies with about 100 Metropass customers.

For this year, the agency estimated that each Metropass user would take an average of about 72 trips a month, according to Wright. That works out to more than two rides every day of a 31-day month.

Metropass sales have been falling since 2014, around the same time the official ridership counts began to stall. The lower Metropass sales are likely a result of the TTC hiking the pass price, as well as increased adoption of the Presto fare-card system, which allows for more accurate ridership counts. About one third of all TTC trips are now taken using Presto.

Metropass sales were down 7 per cent between January and September of this year compared to the same period in 2017.

And yet, according to Wright, fare revenue has remained stable and vehicles appear as full as ever. That would suggest Metropass users weren’t actually taking the high number of trips per month the TTC was attributing to them.

“As we like to say, you still need to take your backpack off on the bus or subway because it’s just as busy a vehicle as it was a year ago,” Wright said.

What I’m left with is there’s been no fundamental change in our ridership across the system, it’s just that we were slightly higher in our count” due in part to overestimating Metropass trips.

Overly optimistic Metropass estimates may not fully explain the TTC’s dropping ridership figures. Ridership started to flatline in 2015, before Presto was widely available across the TTC network.

But the TTC expects its figures will be much more accurate, and be significantly lower, once the Metropass is fully eliminated and nearly all customers use Presto.

“The transition from current ridership calculation methodologies to a Presto-based methodology will likely result in lower ridership totals than have previously been reported,” said a report that went to the TTC board in June.

It warned there may be a need to “re-baseline” TTC ridership from previous years, although Wright said the agency probably doesn’t have good enough data to retroactively adjust past counts.

Transit expert and blogger Steve Munro said the apparent inaccuracies in the Metropass estimates highlight the need for the TTC to collect more reliable passenger information.

“Ridership may well be steady. It may even be growing,” said Munro.

“The problem is, that they don’t have a way to count it.”

While Presto should enable more accurate numbers, Munro pointed out that users may not always tap the fare cards every time they ride, particularly if the vehicle is crowded or the Presto machine is malfunctioning.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, executive director of transit advocacy group TTCriders, said the fact that passengers may not actually be deserting the transit system in high numbers shouldn’t be used as an excuse for the city not to improve service and attract more riders.

“Even if ridership isn’t going down as much as they had previously calculated, we need to be investing in service, because the service is inadequate. The TTC is not meeting its own crowding standards,” she said.

She argued the increased ridership generated by the King St. streetcar pilot is proof “that there is suppressed demand for transit” and “more people will choose to take transit if it is reliable, fast, and affordable.”

A brief history of the Metropass

  • April 1978: TTC tests a monthly pass product, and finds the 107 customers who bought a pass increased their transit use by up to 20 per cent.
  • April 7, 1980: The first Metropass goes on sale. At a price of $26, users must take more than 52 rides to make the pass worth it, which one Star letter writer describes as a “paltry offering” from the transit commission.
  • May 1, 1980: A 17-year-old University of Toronto student named Tim Moseley becomes the first person to use a Metropass, according to the Toronto Sun, entering the subway with it at midnight.
  • Oct. 29, 1980: Moseley is awarded a year’s worth of Metropasses when he wins a contest by taking 212 trips on the TTC in a single day. “It was no fun,” he told the Star.
  • January 1984: The first Metropass for seniors goes on sale, at a price of $24.
  • 1990: The TTC replaces the paper Metropass with a plastic version
  • November 1991: The first student Metropass goes on sale, for $42.50. It is later merged with the senior’s pass in 2005.
  • 2005: The TTC makes the Metropass transferable, allowing riders to share it with another user.
  • September 2010: The first post-secondary Metropass goes on sale, for $99.
  • 2016: Thinking it would be the final year of the Metropass, the TTC issues commemorative passes that form an image when the entire 12-card set is assembled. Delays to Presto push would mean the Metropass lasts another two years.
  • Dec. 31, 2018: After more than 78 million sold, the TTC will end use of the Metropass.

It looks as if you appreciate our journalism. Our reporting changes lives, connects communities and effects change. But good journalism is expensive to produce, and advertiser revenue throughout the media industry is falling and unable to carry the cost. That means we need you, our readers. We need your help. If you appreciate deep local reporting, powerful investigations and reliable, responsible information, we hope you will support us through a subscription. Please click here to subscribe.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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Most Canadian cannabis users worry it will cause them problems at U.S. border: Ipsos poll – National


Over half of current Canadian cannabis users — 57 per cent — say they’re worried about their ability to cross the U.S. border because of legal marijuana use in Canada, an Ipsos poll done exclusively for Global News shows.

Are they right to be worried? It’s not clear.

WATCH: Government workers could face border problems after marijuana legalization

In mid-October, U.S. border officials said they might bar Canadians from the U.S. for legal marijuana use in Canada if a border officer decides they are likely to consume it in the United States.

Legal cannabis use could still get you banned at the border, U.S. confirms

But Canadians seem to no longer be being banished from the U.S. because of marijuana use in Canada, says Blaine, Wash., immigration lawyer Len Saunders.

“It has been eerily quiet with regards to marijuana cases at the border,” he says.

“Over the last month, since they’ve legalized marijuana, the calls I’m getting with regard to cannabis-related issues have almost dropped to nothing.”

Saunders says the change could be a quiet policy shift, or it could be due to Canadians becoming more discreet at the border about past marijuana use due to media coverage of the issue.

WATCH: B.C. woman banished from U.S. gets second chance

Canadians who are banned from the U.S. due to marijuana use can apply for a waiver to be allowed to cross the border, but the process of getting one is cumbersome, expensive and has to be started all over again from scratch every few years for the rest of the person’s life.

“My waiver business has gotten a lot slower,” Saunders says. “I’m still doing a lot of waivers for Canadians with marijuana convictions and stuff like that, but the new cases, going forward after October 17, have almost dropped to zero.”

Saunders thinks that a legal Canadian marijuana user would probably be able to be open about it and cross the border, unless the guard decides their use seems habitual. In that case, they would be sent to a U.S. government-approved doctor in Canada to be evaluated; the doctor’s report isn’t shown to the person or their lawyer, but sent directly to U.S. border officials.

“I think that person would be fine, but I haven’t seen anybody admit to that yet, and I wouldn’t want to have someone test that out and be my guinea pig.”

Non-Americans barred from U.S. for smoking pot — even in states where it’s legal

WATCH: How has legalization changed marijuana consumption in Canada? 

The poll was conducted in the first week of November, about two weeks after legalization.

Most concerned were cannabis users in Quebec (65 per cent) and Alberta (63 per cent), male users (62 per cent), those under 35 (68 per cent) and university graduates (64 per cent.)

“There are substantial majorities who should be concerned, and frankly, so they should be,” says Jennifer McLeod Macey, vice-president at Ipsos.

“We’ve also had some news around the U.S. border recently, so this doesn’t surprise me. I would maybe have expected it to be higher.”

Users in British Columbia weren’t more concerned than other Canadian cannabis users — at 55 per cent — despite the fact that a disproportionate number of people appear to have been banned from the United States at West Coast border crossings, at least based on public reports.

(We asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a more detailed breakdown of Canadians banned from the U.S. for marijuana use, along with a simple count, and they refused to provide one.)

WATCH: Canadian lawyer questions government advice to be honest at U.S. border

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between November 1st to 6th, 2018, with a sample of 2,402 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Medical marijuana users left stranded as legalization pinches supply – National


A week after recreational marijuana was legalized, cannabis supplies for medical users have almost vanished at one licenced producer. And stocks at others are thinner than they were a few months ago.

Nanaimo, B.C.-based licensed producer Tilray had no medical cannabis available at mid-day Wednesday, though it had one oil for sale later in the afternoon.

“It makes it pretty difficult,” says Tilray customer John Campbell, 72, of Owen Sound, Ont. “Where it leaves me is that I’ve got to find another source.”

Campbell says he has suffered from chronic pain since surgery he had in 2009. He started by controlling his pain with fentanyl, but disliked it — “Fentanyl scares me. I’m totally scared to death of it.” His doctor switched him to hydromorph contin, and he has been gradually able to cut his dosage by over two-thirds by using cannabis oil, and hopes to cut it further.

“When your body gets accustomed to a specific product, and you’re buying it from a specific company, it gets adjusted to it. To try to change over to another supplier makes it difficult.”

WATCH: Medical marijuana users worry cannabis tax will price medication out of reach

As recently as August, Tilray seemed well-stocked with a selection of oil and dried flower.

Tilray saw higher demand from medical customers in the leadup to recreational legalization, the company says. After it sent them e-mails warning them of a possible shortage, a rash of buying worsened the shortage.

“We have received an unusually high volume of orders on Tilray medical cannabis products this month,” said spokesperson Chrissy Roebuck in an e-mailed statement. “In anticipation of a potential stock-out of whole flower, we proactively informed patients of this temporary supply interruption which resulted in an additional high volume of orders on oil and capsule varieties, as well.”

In an e-mailed statement, Health Canada pointed to a sharp increase in licenced production capacity: 89 new facilities have been licensed in the last 16 months and another 179 allowed to expand.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians who require cannabis for medical purposes have access to a legal and quality-controlled supply,” spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau wrote.

“While there is no regulatory requirement for licensed producers to prioritize sales to individuals who require cannabis for medical purposes over non-medical sales, it is expected that they will do so. In fact, a number of existing licensed producers have committed publicly to doing so.”

WATCH: Medical marijuana users fear impaired driving laws once cannabis is legal

Medical cannabis was rationed in the past, argues Ottawa lawyer Trina Fraser.

“There used to be a restriction on the amount you could purchase in a 30-day period, and that’s been removed. While that’s a good thing, because it did create supply uncertainty for patients, and that’s the reason it was removed, suddenly the buying levels doubled or tripled.”

And it would be unhelpful to try to bring it back, she argues.

“You’d be doing that on the basis of assumptions that patients would continue to buy exactly what they’re buying now in exactly the same quantities that they’re buying now, and that they’re not going to make a different choice. It can’t be done.”

It’s legally possible for producers to import medical marijuana (they can’t import recreational marijuana), because of uneasiness about the quality of the imported product, Fraser says.

On Twitter, the company said it was hoping to restock by the end of October.


But buying up a large supply is only open to those who can afford it, Campbell points out.

“You’d have to have an awful lot of money to do that. When I purchase mine, I usually buy three bottles at a time. They don’t last a week, and that’s $269 for those three bottles. I’m on a limited income, and that’s quite difficult.”

WATCH: Why is the medical community so hesitant to endorse the pharmaceutical properties of marijuana?

Other licensed producers seem to be doing better than Tilray, at least for now.

Spectrum, Tweed’s medical division, still has a selection of gel caps, oils and dried flower, as does Aphria, though some of its strains are sold out. Aurora and WeedMD have a selection of oil and flower, as does Medreleaf, though many of its medical products are sold out. Maricann is offering two oils and a flower, down from three oils and two flowers on Oct. 12.

Will imported marijuana ease a shortage after October 17?

“Legalization has opened the door for these companies, and they left the medical users in a place that was not anticipated or wanted,” Campbell says.

“They wouldn’t be in the business if it wasn’t for medical marijuana.”

WATCH: Is there a place for pot in treating MS?

The solution is for Health Canada to approve more production facilities, Fraser argued.

“What they can do is help people get through this supply crunch by actually issuing some licences.”

“There are five or six hundred applications for production facilities pending with Health Canada, and that number’s probably going to increase before it decreases.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Will medical marijuana users shift to legal pot? This producer is ready if they do


The packaging room at Emblem Corp. is a hive of activity as white-suited staff members wearing hairnets and masks carefully measure out exactly one gram of marijuana then seal it in small, white jars.

Those fragments of dried cannabis flower are destined to be some of the first sampled by consumers in Ontario and Alberta once marijuana becomes legal in Canada next Wednesday.

Legalization presents both an opportunity and a potential problem for Emblem, which has focused on medical cannabis production in years past. As it expands into recreational products, it’s also preparing for the idea that some of its traditional customers might start self-medicating. 

But the mood at the plant, just outside of Brantford in Paris, Ont., is upbeat as legalization day approaches.

« This is a watershed moment in our history, we’re the first, first-world nation to legalize cannabis, this is a huge deal no matter how you cut it, » said Jordan Rodness, director of product strategy during a tour of the facility.

The packaging room was busy during a tour of the facility Thursday as staff sealed marijuana in small, white jars. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

« The excitement in the room is nuts. People are so engaged in this work and so excited to be participating in this moment. It’s been amazing. »

Excitement, sure, but CEO Nick Dean admits there is some concern a segment of their 5,000 customers might suddenly skip the doctor and come up with their own treatment plan using recreational products.

Jordan Rodness, is the director of product strategy for Emblem, he described marijuana legalization is a watershed moment for the industry. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Still, he’s optimistic that working with insurance companies to cover medical cannabis, along with educating physicians and the public, will make up for the difference.

« Ultimately whenever someone has an ailment, whether you’re suffering from shoulder pain because you used to be the quarterback on your high school football team … or you’re having anxiety, typically the first place we go is to our physician, » he explained.

« I believe that’s going to be the case and as more and more physicians are educated on the benefits of medical cannabis I think we’ll continue to see more and more prescriptions. »

Packagers carefully measure out exactly one gram of marijuana into small jars as part of Emblem’s recreational offering that will be shipped to sites in Ontario and Alberta ahead of legalization Wednesday. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

What sets Emblem apart, according to general manager Jeff Keyes, is that i’s a « closed-box system » where the conditions in five rooms packed with about 500 plants each can be completely controlled to churn out consistent products.

That means everything from light, humidity and even CO2 levels can be monitored and tweaked as needed.

« Our focus here has been on quality, not quantity, » said Keyes. « We’re growing in rooms where we can control 135 different factors. »

Emblem has five growing rooms packed with approximately 500 plants each. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

The facility currently employs 65 people, and is already working on an addition where they’ll work on researching and developing oils, sprays and tablets that aren’t currently legal for recreational use in Canada, but are in other countries.

Once that addition is complete, they plan to employ more than 100. Jobs at the include everything from unskilled workers to highly specialized scientists trained in disciplines like botany.

The company has mainly been focused on producing medicinal products, but plans to contribute to the recreational market too. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Dean said opening Emblem’s doors was about showing consumers it’s not some basement grow-op.

« We wanted to show that it’s incredibly professional, that it’s a sterile environment, it’s pharma-grade, we’re producing high quality and consistent products for both patients and consumers. »


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Half of Ontario cannabis users have driven after using the drug, according to new poll


Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

Cannabis won’t be legal in Canada for another two weeks, but a new survey suggests it’s already common for Ontario drivers to get behind the wheel after using the drug.

A poll released Thursday by the South Central Ontario chapter of the Canadian Automobile Association found 48 per cent of drivers who said they currently use cannabis reported they had tried driving after ingesting or smoking the drug.

Sixteen per cent of all the province’s motorists said they had tried driving after using pot at some point in their life.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos in July, surveyed 1,000 adults in the province who have a valid driver’s licence and drive a motor vehicle. Extrapolating the results, the CAA said the poll shows 1.9 million of the province’s motorists have taken to the road under the influence of pot.

“It tells us right away that road safety must be a priority and be a leading issue now that we’re getting towards the point of legalization,” said Elliott Silverstein, the CAA’s manager of government relations, who emphasized the need for public awareness campaigns to deter driving while high.

While the poll suggests using cannabis before driving is already prevalent, Silverstein said his organization is concerned “there’s a potential for there to be more of it come legalization.”

Recreational use of the drug will become legal across Canada on Oct. 17.

According to the poll, motorists who said they drove after using pot were more likely to be male (69 per cent), between the ages of 25 and 34 (35 per cent), and live in the downtown of a major city (37 per cent).

The survey also found 68 per cent of all respondents said they believed the end of cannabis prohibition will lead to more people driving while high.

Those concerns are “not backed up by evidence,” according to Dr. M-J Milloy, a research scientist at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and one of the co-authors of a report on cannabis regulation written for the Canadian Senate earlier this year.

As part of that report, researchers examined studies of fatal collisions in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado, where voters opted in 2012 to legalize cannabis.

The data showed the proportion of drivers killed in collisions who tested positive for THC — the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — increased after legalization. But because THC can be detected in the blood up to 28 days after consumption, Milloy said, the results didn’t necessarily indicate intoxication at the time of the crash.

A finding the researchers suggested was more significant was that rates of all fatal collisions in Colorado and Washington didn’t significantly change after legalization compared to states where the drug was still prohibited, suggesting lifting the ban didn’t lead to greater incidence of dangerous driving behaviour.

Some studies have found a near doubling of the risk of crashing for drivers who have consumed pot. Milloy said there’s no debate over that it’s not safe to drive while high, but it’s unlikely legalization presents a new risk.

“I think people who are concerned should remember that cannabis is not new to Canadians. Certainly it’s very commonly used now before legalization, and it will be commonly used afterwards,” he said.

Under federal legislation that came into effect in June, drivers who are caught with 5 nanograms of THC or more per millilitre of blood face mandatory minimum fines of $1,000. Repeat offenders could spend at least 120 days in jail.

Critics of the legislation have raised concerns about the ability of roadside tests to reliably measure marijuana impairment.

Andrew Murie, chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the numbers in the Ipsos poll are troubling, but not surprising.

He said public awareness about the dangers of driving while high is “not even close” to that of the acknowledgement, now widespread in Canada, of the risks of drunk driving.

But Murie argued public messaging aimed at deterring driving under the influence of cannabis needs to be different than campaigns against drunk driving, because the effects of marijuana wear off much faster than alcohol, especially when the drug is smoked.

“I think that one of the things we have made a mistake (in doing) up to now is we’ve just been saying, like alcohol, don’t do it,” he said.

He argued campaigns about pot should advise drivers to wait four hours after smoking before getting behind the wheel. “That’s a reasonable message,” he said.

The Ipsos poll is considered accurate plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, according to the CAA.


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