Thinking of bringing a couple joints onboard the boat this summer? Think again.
To some, the first summer of legal cannabis sounds like good incentive to spark up a fatty on the boat. But as per the law in Ontario, boating while high is just as illegal as driving high. The same goes for alcohol on the waterways.
But there are other cannabis-related rules water worshippers need to know about. Consider these recent charges laid in the province by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
This week, Joshua Thomas, 27, of Hampton, Ont., was charged with having care or control of a vessel on Sturgeon Lake with cannabis readily available. Later that same day, David Chong, 60, of Durham was charged with having care and control of a boat underway with open containers of liquor on the nearby Scugog River, Global News reports.
With four grams of cannabis onboard his boat, the police say Thomas directly violated the provincial Cannabis Control Act. Similarly, open beer containers on Chong’s boat infringed Ontario’s Liquor Licence Act.
These are just a few examples of charges that have been laid this summer by the OPP’s marine unit. In early June, Global News reported a man was arrested and charged with operation of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol. The next day, two men were charged for possessing cannabis and alcohol on their boat.
The OPP reminded boaters on Twitter Wednesday that impaired boating is just as dangerous as impaired driving–a BUI carries the same penalties as a DUI.
Under Section 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a person may not operate, assist in the operation of, or have care or control of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.
“Vessels” are not limited to motorized boats, but also include sailboats, kayaks and canoes, as per a case of impaired paddling in 2017. The case, involving the drowning of an eight-year-old boy accompanying a drunk paddler, was so novel that it required a special ruling on whether the Criminal Code’s vague language around vessels included canoes.
Ontario’s cannabis laws state a person can’t smoke, vape, eat or otherwise consume cannabis in a boat that is being driven or about to be driven. Boaters, however, can carry cannabis on a boat if the vessel is being used as a temporary or permanent living space.
The OPP and police services Canada-wide continue to crack down on impaired boating, so it’s best to save the beers and bongs for dry land.
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Written by Sydney Perelmutter