However, coroners can not conclude that cannabis was the leading cause of accidents
At least 62 drivers who died on Quebec’s roads in the last two years had cannabis in the organization, our investigation office said. But coroners have great difficulty in determining whether or not the substance is the main cause of accidents.
The analysis of the 2016 and 2017 Coroners reports of fatal road accidents shows that, in 28 cases, cannabis is cited as one of the factors that may have contributed to the tragedy.
In most of these cases, drivers were impaired by a mixture of alcohol and other drugs.
The coroners conclude that cannabis (and no other substance) could play a determining role in four accidents.
Coroner Mélissa Amélie Plourde claims, for example, that Dylan Murray died in 2016 in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Gaspésie, after striking a culvert.
The toxicological analysis shows that he had not consumed alcohol, but his blood contained significant concentrations of THC (the psychoactive substance of cannabis), ie 44 ng / ml.
“Speed would be the number one cause of skidding and collision,” said coroner Plourde in his report, adding that “other factors contributed to this collision and worsened the severity of the injuries. On the one hand, the driver was under the influence of cannabis recently consumed and found toxicology analysis, and his driving ability and alertness were affected.
In another case, coroner Julie A. Blondin notes that pot was found in the blood of Mélissa Robertson, who died in October 2017.
“The driver is not wearing a seatbelt. She used cannabis, “says the coroner, before quoting a study by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec that says that this drug affects the cognitive and motor functions necessary for safe driving.
In the other two cases, the coroner recalls the recent consumption of pot as the only substance detected in the body, without, however, specifying its concentrations.
“The problem with cannabis is that there is no legal limit recognized worldwide from which everyone is impaired,” says Mohamed Ben Amar, pharmacologist and author of the book Cannabis: Pharmacology and toxicology.
No clear limit
Since October 17, the date of the legalization of cannabis, the federal government has set a new threshold of 2 ng / ml of THC in the blood, from which a person is considered to be under the influence of the pot.
“But the scientific community is divided on the minimum threshold from which we are under the influence of cannabis,” says pharmacologist Mohamed Ben Amar. We can talk about probability, but not certainty as is the case with alcohol. “
THC can be detected in the blood a few hours after consumption, but traces can be detected in the urine for up to five weeks after consumption.
The Société de l ‘assurance automobile du Québec recommends not driving within five hours after smoking cannabis and within six to seven hours after ingesting it.
► There are 52 men among the deceased drivers whose traces of cannabis have been detected.
► The average age of deceased drivers with traces of pot was 33 years old.