Canadian Underwriter

How marijuana legalization could affect accident benefits

November 17, 2017   by Jason Contant, Online Editor

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The upcoming legalization of marijuana will have a “resultant effect upon the accident benefits and damages recovered by those involved in motor vehicle accidents,” one lawyer suggested to Canadian Underwriter on Thursday.

In Ontario, entitlement to income replacement benefits, non-earner benefits and other expenses are excluded under Section 4.4 of the Ontario Automobile Policy where a claimant is convicted of a criminal offence while operating an automobile.

“As well, in personal injury claims, where an individual brings a claim against a driver who was found to be impaired at the time an accident occurs, an insurer will be in a position to restrict the responding policy limits to the statutory minimum of $200,000 on the basis that the impaired driver was in breach of the policy conditions,” Jennifer Huneault, a partner at Hughes Amys LLP told Canadian Underwriter in an interview.

“To add to that, should a driver get into an accident when found to be impaired by THC,” Huneault said referring to the chemical compound in cannabis, “their auto insurer is also on solid footing to deny any claims they bring for repairs to their own vehicle.”

On Tuesday, the Government of Alberta proposed a bill to put in place new provincial sanctions for cannabis-impaired and cannabis/alcohol-impaired driving offences. Alberta proposed to update the Traffic Safety Act to reflect federal changes to impaired-driving laws in the Criminal Code of Canada and “ensure that sanctions for drug-impaired driving would be aligned with those already in place for alcohol-impaired drivers.”

The Government of Canada has introduced legislation that would legalize the use and possession of non-medical cannabis and make changes to federal impaired-driving laws in the Criminal Code. The proposed federal changes include three new impaired driving charges specific to cannabis, cannabis/alcohol combination and other drugs.

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1 Comment » for How marijuana legalization could affect accident benefits
  1. You should be reminding your readers that per se laws specifying THC blood limits should not be included in any cannabis-related legislation. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges that THC blood levels do not predict impairment. No one should drive impaired, but actual impairment should be measured.

    I have developed a new public health app that measures actual impairment–it is called DRUID (an acronym for “DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs”) available now in the Apple App Store (Android version coming soon). DRUID measures reaction time, decision making, hand-eye coordination, time estimation and balance, and then statistically integrates hundreds of data points into an overall impairment score. DRUID takes just 2 minutes.

    I have been working with the Massachusetts Police to test the efficacy of DRUID, and I met last month with the Undersecretary for Law Enforcement in Massachusetts, plus a roomful of top brass of the State Police; I met with the new Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission yesterday; and I will be presenting DRUID to the public safety committee of the Washington State legislature in December. They are all very interested in DRUID.

    Our website is

    DRUID allows cannabis users (or others who drink alcohol, use prescription drugs, etc.) to self-assess their own level of impairment and (hopefully) decide against driving if they are impaired. Prior to DRUID, there was no way for an individual to accurately assess their own level of impairment. DRUID also demonstrates that it is feasible to measure impairment reliably by the roadside, not just exposure to a drug. It could also be a way for cannabis users who have developed tolerance to show they are unimpaired.

    DRUID was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered:

    Also on television:

    After obtaining my Ph.D. at Harvard, I have been a professor of psychology at UMass/Boston for the past 40 years, specializing in research methods, measurement and statistics.

    Michael Milburn, Professor
    Department of Psychology

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