Designated Driver not Accountable for Cannabis-Carrying Passengers, Court Decides

Published on May 23, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Online cannabis ordering and curbside pickup is replacing in-store visits to limit COVID-19. (kurmyshov/iStock)
Online cannabis ordering and curbside pickup is replacing in-store visits to limit COVID-19. (kurmyshov/iStock)

A Newfoundland judge determined that drivers do not need to search their passengers to be certain they are not carrying cannabis, after police charged a designated driver for transporting occupants while carrying open cannabis.Join the Leafly Canada CommunityThe driver police charged, Alysa Theresa Cheeseman, was acting as a designated driver for friends too stoned to drive and said she had no idea they were also carrying cannabis in a mason jar.

“With respect, I do not believe that the intent of the legislation is to require that designated drivers must search their passengers before driving them home,” wrote Judge Harold Porter in his decision.

She was given a breathalyzer and taken to the police station for a drug impairment test, which she passed.

Cheeseman’s lawyer, Don MacBeath, said the verdict was important because the majority of offenses related to driving and intoxicants are automatic charges that apply whether or not the person charged is aware they are committing an offence.

“She was driving people who had been smoking marijuana to prevent them from driving while they were impaired,” MacBeath said. “If she was guilty, then nobody could drive a car with anybody in it without searching them to make sure they didn’t have marijuana on them,” he said.

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Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.
View Jesse B. Staniforth's articles
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