Can You Drive High with a Medical Card in Canada?

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, many doors have opened for those who utilize the drug for medical assistance. However, a medical prescription for cannabis is not an all-access pass: there are still certain activities that are prohibited by law when under the influence of cannabis. One of these activities is operating a motor vehicle.

Driving High is a Criminal Offense

Although different provinces have different provincial legislation surrounding impaired driving, all of these laws complement federal jurisdiction which states that driving under the influence is illegal. If you have been charged with such an offense, you should immediately contact a Calgary criminal defense lawyer

Driving high, marijuana and car key isolated on white

Is It Ever Legal to Drive High?

The short answer is no, however, it should be noted that the penalties for driving under the influence of cannabis vary greatly by province. We will briefly touch on the different legal consequences of driving high in each province in alphabetical order.

In Alberta, the first offense includes vehicle seizure, immediate 90 day license suspension, a thousand dollar fine and more. By the third offense, you face mandatory 120 day imprisonment. 

In British Columbia, under the first offense your license is seized for 90 days, your vehicle is impounded for 3 days, and you receive a $200 fine. By the third offense, the fine increases to $400, your vehicle is impounded for 30 days and there is the possibility of mandatory ignition interlock. 

In Manitoba for your first offense you lose your license for a year, you can possibly be imprisoned for 18 months, and you receive a $1000 fine. By the third offense, you lose your license for a decade and are imprisoned for 120 days.

In New Brunswick, the penalties are a bit less clear but include the possibilities of roadside suspensions, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, mandatory driving courses and fees to reinstate your license. 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the penalties for driving high are essentially the same as driving drunk, with a few additional penalties. The first offense includes a week-long impound, a year long driving ban, a $600 fine and a mandatory driving course. By the third offense, the driving ban increases to 10 years, there is a mandatory medical exam and you will be imprisoned for 90 days. 

In Nova Scotia, the first offense results in a $100 fine and a year long license suspension. By the third offense, you are looking at the license suspension increasing to 5 years and imprisonment up to 120 days. If you offend again after that, your license may be revoked indefinitely. 

In Ontario, the first offense is punishable by a 3 day license suspension and a $250 fine. A third offense results in a $450 fine, a 30 day license suspension, a mandatory medical exam and treatment program, and the use of an ignition interlock device for 6 months. You can also be convicted in court.

On Prince Edward Island, the first offense comes with a 1 day license suspension and a 7 day driving ban, as well as your vehicle being impounded for 30 days. For the third offense, you may be convicted with a 5 year license revocation and a 3 year driving ban.

In Quebec, on your first offense there is an immediate 90 day license suspension or possibly one year, as well as a $1000 fine. There is no third offense – on the second offense, the fine doubles and you may be sent to prison for a term decided by the court.

In Saskatchewan, the first offense results in your vehicle being impounded for 3 days along with your license being suspended for the same amount of time. You also will have to take a mandatory driving course. However, if you find yourself convicted, you may be suspended from driving for 1 to 5 years and have to face a fine of $1250 to $2500.

In Conclusion

We hope this article has clarified just how serious of an offense driving under the influence of cannabis is, even with a medical license. If you find yourself facing these issues in Alberta, contact the best Alberta roadside sanctions lawyer available by reaching out to the team at Alberta Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Joel Chevrefils, Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer, is here to defend you against all criminal charges. When charged with a criminal offence, the first thing you should do is call your trusted Calgary criminal defence lawyer. His professionalism can help you with all concerns regarding your charges and the complex nature of Canada’s legal system. Chevrefils can help you with your charges in and outside Calgary, including Provincial Courts in Cochrane, Airdrie, Okotoks, Red Deer and Edmonton. Trust your case to Calgary’s most experienced criminal lawyer. Call today on 403-830-1980 or email [email protected] for your free consultation.

It has happened many times before: a person gets pulled over and finds themselves charged with impaired driving, even though they have no idea what they did wrong. They might have had a few drinks, but were in complete control of the vehicle – or so they thought.


If you drive, it’s important to understand impaired driving, the laws around it and what to do if you are charged. Our guide can help you.


Your Guide to Impaired Driving in Alberta 


What is Impaired Driving?

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, impaired driving is defined as not having the ability to drive safely in a vehicle due to impairment. In most cases, the impairment is due to consumption of alcohol, the use of cannabis, or other illegal drug substances. 


However, some cases of impairment include sleepiness, distractions (such as using a mobile phone), and if you have any medical conditions, which impact your driving ability. 


What are the Legal Limits? 

Canada has legal limits that the province of Alberta must abide by. As stated by the Government of Canada, These include the following: 


  • Alcohol – which has a legal limit of “80 milligrams or more (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood” when assessing your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). 
  • Cannabis (THC) – which has a legal limit of “2 nanograms (ng) and 5 ng of THC per ml of blood”. It is considered a serious offence if you have “5 ng of THC or more per ml of blood”.
  • Alcohol/Cannabis – the legal combination of these substances is no more than “50mg or more of alcohol per 100ml blood and 2.5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood”.
  • Illegal Substances – LSD, mushrooms, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, PCP, heroin are illegal and you are prohibited from driving within two hours of consumption. 
dui-lawyer-calgary

What are the Punishments for Impaired Driving?

Firstly, it’s important to understand that you might face double the penalties for impaired driving. One is the criminal charge laid by the Government of Canada; the other is by the IRS (Immediate Roads Sanctions) administered by Albertan law enforcement.


The severity of the punishments depends on your previous record and the current charge. First-time offenders usually face minor consequences, such as fines, driving suspension and more. Second and third-time offenders also face hefty fines and lifetime suspensions, by might also partake in driving programs and go to jail, for a maximum of 10 years. 


Therefore, it’s important to understand your situation and what punishments you might face in the process. 


For more information on the type of punishment you might receive in relation to your criminal charge, please read the Government of Canada’s “Impaired Driving Laws” page here


For information about Alberta’s IRS program, please visit the “Impaired Driving Laws” page here


How to Respond to Impaired Driving Charges?

Whether you are innocent or not, it’s important to contact a DUI lawyer in Calgary as soon as possible to help your case. 


In many cases, individuals might not realize they are impaired when driving, a silly mistake that shouldn’t result in them losing their livelihood. In other situations, law enforcement has not properly followed protocols or procedures, resulting in unfair charges against people. Once again, the mistakes of others shouldn’t impact individuals. 


Getting a DUI lawyer on your side quicker than ever can help your case and ensure you do not face hefty punishments, such as jail time. Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyers are those lawyers, ready to help you.


Joel Chevrefils, Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer, is here to defend you against all criminal charges. When charged with a criminal offence, the first thing you should do is call your trusted Calgary criminal defence lawyer. His professionalism can help you with all concerns regarding your charges and the complex nature of Canada’s legal system. Chevrefils can help you with your charges in and outside Calgary, including Provincial Courts in Cochrane, Airdrie, Okotoks, Red Deer and Edmonton. Trust your case to Calgary’s most experienced criminal lawyer. Call today on 403-830-1980 or email [email protected] for your free consultation.