On Wednesday, the Canadian government released its latest data showing the number of drivers impaired in their driving, with the numbers climbing significantly since 2014.
The report showed that there are more than 6,500 people who have tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but were found not to be impaired by the drug.
A total of 4,079 people had a positive THC test for impairment in 2015, up from 3,879 in 2014.
However, the number for the current year has risen to 4,021, with an average of 2,977 people testing positive for the drug in the past two years.
Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher are more likely to be found impaired by marijuana than those with a BAC of 0 to 0.10%, which is also the legal limit for driving in Canada.
As a result, the new data highlights the need for increased enforcement of the current marijuana laws, said David MacLean, president of the Association of Canadian Hospitals, which represents the country’s more than 1,000 medical centres.
“We’ve seen some changes in the way the Canadian system has evolved, particularly the use of Breathalyzers and the use by police of a more intrusive and intrusive test,” he said.
Although the new numbers are a small increase from last year, MacLean says they show the need to move to a system that better protects the health of drivers.
Since 2014, when the first cannabis-related impairment numbers were released, the government has taken steps to ensure drivers are not being stopped for driving while impaired, with new roadside checks and the imposition of mandatory breath testing.
According to the government, the use-of-force guidelines in Canada have been relaxed to help stop people from driving while intoxicated, and the number and proportion of police officers who use deadly force in roadside stops has been reduced to reduce the likelihood of officers getting hurt.
While the numbers for the previous year were still growing, it is not clear how much of the increase is due to the use a breathalyzer, or how much is due the increased use of automated roadside checks.
Despite the government’s efforts to ensure people are not impaired, Maclean said it is unlikely that the changes will be enough to reduce impaired driving.
Dr. Stephen Linton, an addiction medicine physician at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Centre for Addictions, said the new government figures do not reflect what is happening on the street, but the increased attention on the issue by police, health care providers and public officials.
“I think it shows the need is there, but it’s not enough,” he told CBC News.
“It’s a question of awareness and education and it’s a need that the public, the doctors and the community needs to really be part of, because there’s really no other option for these people who are impaired and they’re just not getting help.”
In 2014, the province of Ontario passed a law that would make it easier for police to detect and identify people who may be impaired while driving.
This new data shows that the number is increasing, with nearly one in four people tested positive in 2015 and nearly two in three people found not impaired by THC in 2015.
In a statement, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the government is aware of the increased prevalence of impaired driving, but has implemented changes to its driving laws to help reduce the risk of impairment.
Hoskins said that since 2014, about one in five Canadians has been stopped for speeding and another one in three drivers involved in accidents have been found not guilty.
MacLean says the federal government is also aware of how the new federal statistics may not reflect changes in provincial and territorial laws, but says he believes there are important changes in place across the country.
“The federal government needs to do a better job of getting to grips with what’s happening in the provinces, so that we can actually see how they’re working, and they need to be more proactive and better prepared,” he added.