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Weed on the Water

Bill C45 made recreational cannabis legal on Oct 17, 2018. Concurrently bill C46 was passed which updates the country’s impaired driving laws. So what does this mean for boaters? Read more…

First of all, boating while impaired by drugs wasn’t allowed before C46 and isn’t now.

The legislation is new, so there are still many issues to work out. But here’s what we know so far?

You must be 19 years of age to possess cannabis in Ontario.

You are allowed to transport small amounts of cannabis in your boat but it must be in a closed container and/or not readily available to anyone in the boat. Usage is not allowed in a vehicle or boat while being driven, or while under someone else’s control.

Use is allowed in boats that are moored or anchored and meet certain criteria, which include having: permanent sleeping accommodations; cooking facilities; and a head. Same as for alcohol.

So, under the Highway Traffic Act, which does apply to all vessels, an officer is allowed to suspend a drivers license if impairment is indicated. For now, with cannabis, the OPP relies on Standard Field Sobriety Tests to determine impairment. You are legally bound to submit to this test. If impairment is indicated then you could be arrested and taken to the detachment for further testing. The Officer could suspend your license for 3,7 or 30 days. Depending on the severity of the offence, penalties beyond license suspension could be applied. It is expected that the OPP will have equipment to test saliva for proof of impairment by drugs on the water in the future.

The laws governing alcohol, cannabis and impaired driving apply to all types of vessels – including human-powered watercraft.

There is a zero tolerance rule for people under 21who are impaired – car or vessel.

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