Area of Law: Cannabis Law
Answer # 2556
Exceeding the THC to blood limitRegion: Ontario Answer # 2556
Impairment by THC
Cannabis contains both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC. THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis that causes mind-altering effects and can impair motor or mental functions.
In contrast, CBD is the chemical component that does not get a user high and is often used for medicinal purposes.
What are the prohibited amounts of THC?
By law, if a police officer suspects a driver has consumed drugs or alcohol, or a combination of both, they can demand several roadside tests: mandatory breath test, oral fluid (saliva) sample, and/or conduct a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). The saliva test will help to determine the approximate amount of THC in the driver’s system. It is important to note that roadside breath tests are now mandatory, meaning that the police officer does not need to suspect the driver of being impaired in order to request it.
Under the Criminal Code (section 320.14), there are 3 new cannabis impairment offences:
- Summary conviction offence: 2 ng but less than 5 ng of THC per ml of blood.
- Hybrid offence: 5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood.
- Hybrid offence: for a combination of 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml blood + 2.5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood.
To see the drug categories and limits for drugs other than cannabis, refer to the Blood Drug Concentration Regulations.
Failing or refusing a roadside test
Failing a test:
Failing one or more of the roadside tests —SFST, breath test, or oral fluid test— can result in being charged under the Criminal Code. If the driver fails any of these roadside tests, they may be arrested and taken to a police station or medical facility for further testing. However, before taking further tests and or providing samples at the police station, you do have the right to consult with a lawyer.
Refusing a test:
It is important to note that you do not have the right to consult with a lawyer before providing these roadside tests. Furthermore, it is a criminal offence under Criminal Code section 320.15(1) to refuse to provide a roadside SFST, breath test, or oral fluid sample. However, if you have a reasonable excuse, such as an injury or illness that prevents you from being able to blow enough air into the breathalyzer screening machine, you may have a valid excuse for refusing.
There are penalties under both the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the Canadian Criminal Code for impaired driving offences.
For legal advice and assistance with a cannabis related matter, contact our preferred cannabis law expert, Harrison Jordan Law .
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