It’s now easier to find pot than a Tim Hortons coffee shop
Now that you can find more cannabis stores than Tim Hortons coffee shops in Ontario, it’s not surprising that drug-impaired driving has also increased.
There are now 171 more cannabis stores in Ontario than there are Tim Hortons coffee shops. As of January, 2023, there were 1,977 cannabis stores in Ontario, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. There are 1,806 Tim Hortons coffee shops.
In some small Ontario towns there are more pot shops than coffee shops. Not surprisingly, drug use by drivers has increased but at the same time alcohol use has decreased, noted a recently-released Department of Public Safety report.
Drug-impaired driving charges have more than doubled in four years. There were 7,454 police-reported drug impaired driving charges in Canada in 2021. Compare that to 3,416 in 2017, the last year before marijuana was decriminalized, police records show.
There has been a “significant increase in the prevalence of drug use” by drivers since Ottawa legalized marijuana, says the Department of Public Safety report, which also found that “Cannabis users, especially daily or almost daily users, are more likely to think cannabis use does not impair driving.”
The Annual National Data Report To Inform Trends And Patterns In Drug Impaired Driving 2022 found that toxicological analyses among injured and fatally-injured drivers indicates that the number of incidents involving drivers with drugs in their systems, including cannabis, has been constantly rising, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
While marijuana users must wait at least two hours after use to get behind a wheel, one survey found that 21 per cent of marijuana users began driving under two hours. Roadside police checks in three provinces, including Ontario, and in two territories, found that found 14 per cent of young drivers under 25 tested positive for marijuana impairment, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.