Canada: La légalisation du cannabis au Canada et le Code de la sécurité routière du Québec

Last Updated: September 27 2018
Article by David F. Blair, Brian Lipson and Alexandre Saulnier-Marceau

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2018

Le Parlement du Québec a adopté le 12 juin 2018 la Loi constituant la Société québécoise du cannabis, édictant la Loi encadrant le cannabis et modifiant diverses dispositions en matière de sécurité routière (L.Q. 2018, c. 19, la « Loi »). Tandis que le Parlement fédéral a actualisé le Code criminel (« C.cr. ») pour tenir compte de la décriminalisation du cannabis prévue pour le 17 octobre 2018, la Loi régit la production, la vente et la consommation de cannabis au Québec, en plus de confier sa vente à une société d'État, la Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). Elle apporte également des modifications au Code de la sécurité routière (« CSR ») concernant la conduite sous l'effet du cannabis ou d'autres drogues, adoptant une approche de « tolérance zéro ».

Une fois entrées en vigueur, les nouvelles dispositions du CSR interdiront à toute personne de conduire un véhicule routier (ou d'en avoir la garde ou le contrôle) « s'il y a quelque présence dans son organisme de cannabis ou d'une autre drogue, sous réserve des exceptions prévues par règlement ». Si une personne conduit avec du cannabis dans son organisme ou refuse d'obéir l'ordre d'un policier de se soumettre au test de détection du cannabis, son permis de conduire sera suspendu sur-le-champ pendant 90 jours. Une interdiction de consommer du cannabis ou d'autres types de drogue est aussi prévue pour les passagers d'un véhicule routier, les cyclistes et les utilisateurs d'un véhicule hors route.

Les dispositions de la Loi qui proposent cette politique de « tolérance zéro » n'entreront en vigueur que lorsque des dispositifs adéquats seront disponibles pour détecter le cannabis dans la salive. Comme le gouvernement fédéral a récemment approuvé l'utilisation d'un appareil de détection du cannabis dans la salive aux fins du Code criminel, il est à prévoir que le Québec approuve de son côté, dans un court délai, des appareils de détection aux fins du CSR. Dans l'intervalle, les évaluations actuellement utilisées par les agents de la paix afin de détecter une personne ayant les capacités affaiblies continueront d'être la marche à suivre. La Loi prévoit également que le gouvernement peut, par règlement, déterminer les normes de détection ou prévoir des exceptions, ce qui pourrait inclure un seuil maximal de concentration de cannabis dans le sang pour l'application des nouvelles dispositions, ou des règles particulières pour les utilisateurs de cannabis thérapeutique.

Les dispositions du Code criminel s'appliquent toujours parallèlement à celles du régime pénal provincial. Ainsi, le fait de conduire sous l'influence du cannabis entraînera les sanctions pénales et administratives décrites ci-dessus en vertu des lois du Québec, mais pourrait également entraîner une condamnation criminelle. C'est également le cas du conducteur qui excède les concentrations maximales de drogue permises en vertu du Code criminel, peu importe le degré d'affaiblissement. Le Règlement sur les concentrations de drogue dans le sang (DORS/2018-148) prévoit que la conduite avec un taux de 2 ng/mL de tétrahydrocannabinol (« THC ») dans le sang constituera une contravention passible d'amende, tandis qu'à partir de 5 ng/mL, il s'agira d'une infraction proprement criminelle avec une peine équivalente à la conduite avec plus de 80 mg d'alcool par 100 mL de sang.

Les règlements d'application de la Loi n'ont toujours pas été adoptés et le moment de l'entrée en vigueur de la Loi demeure inconnu. Malgré les possibles aménagements réglementaires, la prohibition dans sa forme actuelle apparaît privative de liberté et soulève à notre avis des préoccupations pour l'industrie du transport.

Des traces de THC peuvent être présentes dans la salive pendant au moins 13 heures après la consommation lorsque le cannabis est fumé, tandis que le gouvernement du Canada considère que les effets du cannabis peuvent durer six heures ou plus après la consommation.  Un conducteur ayant légalement consommé du cannabis pourrait donc se voir empêcher de conduire bien au-delà de la période d'affaiblissement de ses capacités, et son permis de conduire serait suspendu pour 90 jours en raison d'une quantité de THC dont le lien avec l'affaiblissement et la sécurité routière est ténu. La conduite automobile étant répandue au Canada comme ailleurs, on peut penser que la validité de cette prohibition totale sera contestée devant les tribunaux dès sa mise en application.

Pour l'industrie du transport, les conducteurs et les transporteurs routiers et ferroviaires devront prévoir à quel moment une personne peut conduire après avoir consommé du cannabis, et de suivre la ligne tracée par un régime qui prévoit une interdiction totale visant des quantités minimes de THC. Les exploitants de véhicules lourds et les transporteurs ferroviaires pourraient donc se trouver dans une situation difficile, surtout compte tenu des pénuries de main d'Suvre et de capacité dans l'industrie du transport. À notre avis, le seuil fédéral de 2 ng/mL est préférable en ce qu'il évite d'imposer une interdiction totale de facto visant une activité légale dans la vie personnelle des conducteurs de véhicules lourds et d'équipement ferroviaire, tout en assurant la sécurité routière.

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