A Canadian man who smoked a joint while an RCMP officer chatted with drivers a few cars ahead of him at a roadside checkpoint last week was allowed to continue on his way after he gave up his small stash of marijuana.
But at least his seat belt was fastened, and he was courteous and cooperative. Even though the aroma of freshly smoked cannabis wafted up through the air as the officers waved him up, “he seemed fine,” so after he put his small weed stash into the outstretched hand of a Mountie, he was on his way.
However!! Smoking a joint while waiting in line at an RCMP checkpoint isn’t exactly recommended behavior, according to Cpl. Andy Hamilton of the RCMP’s western traffic services.
“I don’t know the exact distance, but it wasn’t very far (back in the line),” Hamilton said.
“I can’t get into the guy’s mind, but he felt comfortable enough to light a joint within eyesight of the police, probably figuring he’d finish it off before he gets there and no one will be the wiser.”
The joint was gone by the time he got to the front of the line, but the Mounties noticed “other evidence.”
“He was honest,” said Hamilton, who wasn’t at the scene but read the report later.
The mellow motorist was briefly detained, but released without being charged, although according to Hamilton, charges are still possible.
The Mounties — who decided the man was OK to drive after questioning him — don’t often charge cases involving only a gram or two of cannabis.
“The main reason we don’t is because whenever we present those cases to the Crown, they usually don’t go forward with them,” Hamilton said.
The fact that a driver was toking up at a checkpoint did not surprise Hamilton. Officers often smell marijuana after pulling a car over, and the driver usually claims he or she smoked a joint “the night before.”
“They’re very nonchalant about it,” Hamilton said.
So if a driver with one or two grams of pot isn’t likely to be charged, is the same likely to be true of a driver with one open bottle of beer?
“You have to go case by case,” Hamilton said.
Susan MacAskill of MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) claimed that marijuana-smoking drivers cause accidents.
“It mellows a person out so they don’t realize they’re a risk,” MacAskill claimed. “They think they’re more relaxed, and we’ve had many people who claim ‘I’m a better drive when I’ve smoked a joint,’ and that’s just absolutely not true.
“:People who are impaired by marijuana can cause as horrific crash,” MacAskill claimed.
“It is really quite bold to be smoking a drug that’s illegal … at a traffic stop,” she said.