With the relaxing of laws regarding cannabis, the Saskatchewan government is pondering how it relates to road safety.
Premier Brad Wall said ministers for Justice, Corrections and Policing and officials from Saskatchewan Government Insurance (which oversees driver licensing) are examining the link between marijuana legalization and road safety.
The test involved 19 occasional cannabis users and their performance in a standardized driving simulator.
"We found a few different detrimental effects on driving performance," said Andrew Spurgin, one of the researchers. "Some effects that we noted were that subjects seemed to weave more, in their lane."
However, there were differences between driving behaviour under alcohol and under marijuana. Cannabis users were also found to drive slower.
"We didn't note that these participants were actually leaving their intended lane of travel more often," Spurgin said. "Which was a very interesting finding."
Spurgin noted that relating behaviour between medium users and heavier users was difficult. He also said that the whole topic was "surprisingly understudied" when it comes to impaired driving research.
While there are existing blood alcohol limits for driving, there are none yet for cannabis intake. Traces of the drug remain in the body after effects have subsided, making testing more complicated. The methods of testing for marijuana also lack standardization, but there is some research looking into a portable tester analysing a swab sample from the inside of the cheek.
It remains to be seen how the pending legalization of marijuana will impact auto insurance premiums, as the plant’s status as an illicit substance is revoked.