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Marijuana & Boating: It's Kind of a Big Deal

October 17, 2018.

Many Canadians are enthusiastically counting the minutes until this day. Many Canadians are dreading this date. The rest of us remain indifferent. What’s the big deal? This is the date that the sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal nationwide.

So what does this mean for us boating enthusiasts?


When it comes to drinking and driving - or drinking and boating - the rules are clear. There’s a legal limit to how much alcohol you can consume and still be a safe motorist. Go over the limit and there are consequences. Passengers are permitted to consume alcohol, but with some fairly rigid conditions. In most provinces, boat passengers can only consume alcohol on board a boat if the boat has a permanent toilet, cooking facilities, sleeping facilities and it is anchored or secured to a dockThis is pretty cut and dry, but you’ll find that tons of Canadians are surprised to find out that passengers can’t openly drink cans of beer while the driver is sober.  

There’s still a lot of confusion and questions surrounding recreational marijuana use and driving, which is only natural. This is a new concept and there’s bound to be a learning curve. This curve is even more pronounced in the boating industry since we’re still a little behind with alcohol-related common knowledge.

Legend Boats is here to clear things up for you.

Reasons to Ignore the Law

It’s Really No Big Deal:

It may seem that way, but when you look at the 70,000 driving incidents in 2016, 3,000 involved drug-impairment.

Similarly, 65% of boating related incidents involve alcohol. Using the same ratio and some quick math we can discern that 4.3% of boating incidents will involve some degree of drug-impairment. Apply that to the 428 recorded drowning deaths in Canadian waters in 2014 and there’s certainly cause for alarm.

So, what may seem to be “not a big deal” is actually responsible for 18 Canadian deaths per year.  On top of this you can add damaged property, fines, and personal injuries.

Do you really want a little weed to be the reason the life of a loved one or innocent bystander has ended?  Not worth it.

You Won’t Get Caught:

Canadian waters are massive. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever get stopped on the water, and even if you do law enforcement has no way to tell if you’re high right? Well, no.

Although there are thousands of lakes - many of them tucked away - peppering this country of ours, law enforcement has become very organized over the years. The majority of Police Services operate a Marine Unit. There are provincial enforcement services (the Ontario Provincial Police Highway Safety Division - Marine Unit for example) federal units (RCMP) and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Each of these has their fair share of waters to oversee, and they do! Even if you’re only out on the waters a few times a year there’s still a good chance you’ll have an encounter with law enforcement.

With the ascension of bill C-46 {} in June 2018, law enforcement has received an incredible injection of marijuana training. A common skill among officers is being able to determine if you are impaired just by interacting with you. Your red eyes, muscle tremors, agitation, and speech patterns are all telltale signs. If there are any doubts, officers are entitled to demand a fluid and/or blood sample. These results are on par with breathalyzer tests for alcohol. Each province will have their own rules and regulations to be aware of. Make sure to brush up on your local laws.

You can have marijuana in your system while operating a boat, but only a tiny amount. With booze you can have a drink and still operate a car, but you cannot be impaired and operate a car. The same goes for boating. Why do we keep comparing cars and boats? Because in the eyes of the law they are the same. If you lose your license, you lose your license. Smoking and Boating means you’ll have to take the bus to work from now on. Again, not worth it.

What To Expect

The roll out of the new laws are forcing many people and businesses to alter their social outlook and codes of conduct, and are arguably complicated. What’s not complicated is what you as a Canadian citizen should do about it: Treat it like alcohol.

You wouldn’t show up to work completely drunk. You’d call Uber to get home after a night out at the pub. If you had a few glasses of wine with dinner you’d wait a few hours before getting out on the lake with your family.

The same goes for pot. You know you shouldn’t drink and boat, so don’t smoke and boat.

Boating, fishing, and water-sports are what many Canadians live for and a great source of pleasure and relaxation. Let’s all do our part to keep the waters safe.


Learn More About Drinking Laws In Ontario


Happy Boating, Stay Safe

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