A Victoria man is disputing a ticket and 24-hour driving prohibition he received from the Victoria Police Department for possession of cannabis while driving.
On Oct. 26 the man, who remains unnamed but is represented by Leamon Roudette Law Group, says he was pulled over by the Victoria Police in a regular road block and had his license revoked for 24 hours, as well as given a $230 ticket for the alleged presence of cannabis residue on his dashboard. The man disputes the presence of this residue, and is adamant that he had not consumed marijuana that day and was not impaired.
The man also holds a medical marijuana licence, and says he uses it to treat a medical condition.
Law firm partner Sarah Leamon said the provincial cannabis act is so new that there’s not enough clarity as to how it functions.
“The client will dispute the ticket, and it will be the first time it will be tested,” Leamon said. “He’s very upset, he was not impaired, he has all medical documents that he can use marijuana at any given time, but maintains he was not using it when he was using a motor vehicle. He feels he was being unfairly punished as a medical marijuana user.”
The $230 ticket was administered under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) which states that an “adult must not operate a vehicle, whether or not the vehicle is in motion, while A) the adult has personal possession of cannabis or B) there is cannabis in the vehicle.”
There are several exceptions to this, including if the cannabis is from a federal producer and still in its original , unopened packaging or if the product is not readily accessible to the driver or passengers in the vehicle.
The man will dispute this ticket and receive a court hearing in Victoria in the near future.
However, he will have to take a whole different set of steps to dispute the 24-hour prohibition, which falls under the Motor Vehicle Act. This situation does not offer a local appeal process when in conjunction with drugs– though it does with alcohol. Instead, he will have to take the dispute for a judicial review to the BC Supreme court.
“It’s a rather costly and time-consuming process, but our client feels this was issued to him unfairly,” Leamon said. “He wants to fight it and understand the implications for himself and other cannabis users across the future.”
Victoria Police would not comment on the specific case because it is before the courts, but VicPD spokesperson Const. Matt Rutherford said people aren’t given 24-hour prohibitions simply based on the presence of alcohol or drugs in the vehicle.
“People are issued a 24-hr suspension when they fail the SFST [standard field sobriety testing],” Rutherford said. “If somebody drives impaired after smoking cannabis, then gets stopped by an officer, they could face a 24-hour suspension after the trained officer completes their testing.”
These tests would be the same for drugs or alcohol, and include walking a straight line and coordination tests.
Rutherford added that anyone who receives a suspension has a right to dispute it within one week.
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