OTTAWA — Ahead of its July deadline for legalizing recreational marijuana use in Canada, the federal government has launched a campaign warning of the risks of drug-impaired driving.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is unveiling a series of advertisements today that will air on TV, radio, online and in movie theatres.
Others will appear on billboards and in other public spaces.
The public service video ads depict a group of young people, laughing and talking after smoking drugs, who get into a devastating auto accident.
'Don't drive high'
Goodale says recent public opinion research suggests that half of young people aged 16 to 24 believe that driving while under the influence of cannabis is more socially acceptable than getting behind the wheel while drunk.
The group MADD Canada, which has been running its own ads for months, says people, particularly youth, need to know the real dangers of driving while on drugs.
The campaign is in partnership with MADD Canada, Young Drivers of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
Goodale says the message is simple: "Don't drive high."
Too many people downplay the potentially deadly risks of driving high.Ralph Goodale, public safety minister
"Too many Canadians badly need to hear that message," the minister said as he launched the campaign at Carleton University.
"Too many people downplay the potentially deadly risks of driving high."
Several provinces have enacted or proposed legislation aimed at cracking down on drug-impaired driving.
The Saskatchewan government last week proposed a zero tolerance law that would see a drivers' licences immediately suspended if they are accused of driving under the influence of drugs.
The measures include vehicle seizures of 30 or 60 days if a driver is also impaired by alcohol.
Federal Criminal Code provisions on drug-impaired driving are also expected to take effect in the next couple of months.
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