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Canadians concerned about legal marijuana, as some users believe they can drive safely

New State Farm® Canada survey reveals attitudes are changing, use is becoming more acceptable, but half of users believe it poses no danger behind the wheel

Aurora, ON (April 18, 2017) – With the recent tabling of federal legislation, Canada continues its march towards the legalization of marijuana. A new State Farm Canada survey released today found a number of emerging trends which reveal Canadians’ perceptions about marijuana use, its safety and driving while under the influence are evolving.

Generally, the path toward legalization seems to be changing how Canadians feel about marijuana, largely in a more accepting way. One out of 4 survey respondents say that their views on marijuana have changed since Prime Minister Trudeau announced his promise to legalize marijuana. And of those whose views have changed, nearly 70 per cent feel that marijuana use has become more acceptable.

On the issue of marijuana and driving, those who use marijuana see things quite differently from those who do not. One in 10 respondents admit they have driven under the influence of marijuana (45 per cent within the past 12 months), but nearly half of this group say they don’t believe marijuana impacts their ability to drive safely. This is an increase of five per cent from 2016, but also shows that users have a very different view of driving while high than the rest of the population. When the same question was asked of Canadians in general, 73 per cent felt that marijuana use would impair the skills necessary to drive.

“It’s clear that those who admit to driving while under the influence of marijuana don’t believe it’s as dangerous as those who don’t. With legalization now imminent, the need for more public education and awareness is clear, marijuana is a drug, and like alcohol it affects your abilities and senses,” says John Bordignon, Media Relations, State Farm Canada. “Law enforcement and the legal system need the necessary tools and laws in place to ensure the safety of all Canadians on our roads.”

Marijuana and impaired driving – survey points:

  • 80 per cent say they are concerned about people driving under the influence of marijuana
  • 83 per cent feel there is not enough information available about the risks associated with driving under the influence of marijuana
  • 3 out of 4 don’t believe, or are unsure, that police have the tools and resources to identify marijuana-impaired drivers
  • 38 per cent believe that stiffer penalties would discourage people the most from driving while high. This is closely followed by stronger road side testing (30 per cent) which jumped up by 11 per cent when compared to the 2016 survey
  • 75 per cent said that people who drive while high should have the same legal penalties as those who drink and drive
  • 73 per cent believe that people who drive high should be given an impaired driving (DUI, DWI) charge
  • 68 per cent do not feel that the Canadian legal system has made progress over the past year to deal with people who drive under the influence of marijuana, whether in the form of testing, legislation or public awareness

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs

The survey also revealed that 86 per cent of Canadians say they have not driven under the influence of a drug, whether prescription or illicit. However, 14 per cent of respondents admit they have driven under the influence of a prescription or over-the-counter drug that was a stimulant or sedative, and 7 per cent of respondents say they have driven under the influence of an opioid (narcotic) medication.

75 per cent of Canadians worry about people driving under the influence of prescription drugs. When asked what age group people associate with prescription drug-impaired driving, respondents were split between people aged 16-25 (27 per cent) and people aged 55 and over (27 per cent). Interestingly, respondents in these two age groups associated their own age bracket with prescription drug-impaired driving the most.

Additional resources

This is the first of three news releases State Farm will distribute in 2017 revealing survey results and the opinions of Canadians about their driving habits and road safety.

To find out more about how State Farm works to improve road safety in Canada, please visit www.statefarm.ca/autosafety

About the Survey

The online survey, conducted in March 2017, polled 3,061 respondents of driving age across Canada.

For further information (media inquiries only):

1-866-866-7000, ext. 5553436
1-514-281-7000, ext. 5553436
media@desjardins.com

This press release was distributed by State Farm Canada prior to its brand transition to Desjardins Insurance.

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