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The writing has been on the wall, and unfortunately, those who were worried about government overreach were right.
On a bright cold day in January, when a Nova Scotia woman named Michelle Gray was stopped for a roadside checkpoint. Gray, a medical cannabis product user that aids in her treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms, was stopped at a roadside checkpoint while driving on her way to work.
Gray wasn’t worried initially. It had been over six hours since she had last consumed any cannabinoid product, which is the amount of time the federal government enforces for the operation of a vehicle.
What happened to Gray next was a longwinded, and unnecessary affair. She tested positive for THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. And although she passed a sobriety test, she still had her licence suspended for one week.
“It was a traumatic event for me,” says Gray, as the events transpired in front of her son who was also in the vehicle.
For Gray’s legal use of cannabis to treat MS symptoms, she was arrested, taken to the Halifax Police HQ, and underwent another sobriety test. The entire time, Gray worried that her MS symptoms could negatively impact her ability to perform on such a test, which could lead officers to believe that she was not sober.
Gray, who luckily passed the test, has said that “If I would have had a flare-up where my speech was impaired, like it has been during flare-ups in the past, I would have instantly failed.”
She passed the test with flying colours, of course. She would not be charged for any crimes, although still, she was on the receiving end of punishment. On top of her licence being suspended for a week, she also had her car impounded because she had tested positive for THC during the roadside test.
Gray alleges that she missed four days of work due to impounding, and had to pay nearly $300 to get her own car back. She says it makes no sense because she wasn’t actually impaired.“Just because I tested positive for that roadside test for impairment does not mean I was impaired,” she says.
It’s not just cannabis experts and medical professionals that would agree with her. An RCMP corporal is also saying that Gray is correct
In an interview with CTV News, RCMP Cpl.Croteau states that “there is no correlation between the level that you’re at, the active THC in your body, and impairment.”
So if Gray was sober and was able to prove so, why was she being punished?
Tom Singleton, a top criminal defence lawyer based in Halifax, says that the root of the problem is in the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act, which gives police the ability to issue suspensions for drivers who fail roadside screening tests, regardless of proof of impairment. The act is all-encompassing, meaning that this same situation could also happen with alcohol.
“There’s a penalty being imposed before there’s any process to determine if there’s guilt or innocence,” he says.
Gray says she has hired a lawyer and plans to challenge the law in court.
This isn’t the first time that a scenario of this tone has played out. In a story reported by Global News, a man by the name of Art went to his local Ontario Beer Store to return about three dozen beer bottles and 10 wine bottles, which his family had accumulated over the Christmas season.
Not much time had passed, and Art had been pulled over in a traffic stop by a police officer who asked if he had been drinking. Art said he had not.
Art says the officer demanded a roadside breath sample. Art asked the officer what would happen if he did not provide the breathalyzer test, to which the officer informed him that he would face arrest, a criminal charge, and a license suspension. All of this from a 70-year-old man who was simply returning bottles to the Beer Store.
Art took the breathalyzer test. He passed the test and went on to continue his day.
“I felt like I was violated in a way. They shouldn’t have that right to pull a person over unless there is a good sign the person is doing something wrong,” said Art, who claims to have not been using a cellphone, speeding, or violating any traffic laws.
We are feeling the growing pains of a nation that wanted marijuana legalized. There are going to be scenarios that do not play out as smoothly as we’d like. But citizens should not be paying the price for the government’s mismanagement. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. as we can see, it’s not so much a matter of if these laws will be abused, it’s a matter of when, and against who.
What do you think? Are the laws a welcomed step in the right direction? Or is the government overstepping boundaries? Let us know.