Personal Injury

Beware the legal implications of pot use in your home

By Paul Russell, Contributor

People offering legal cannabis products to guests in their home should be aware of the potential consequences, Toronto personal injury lawyer David Derfel tells

“If someone comes over, uses cannabis, and then gets into a car accident on the way home, the host could bear some liability — the same way they would if they overserved that person alcohol,” says Derfel, founder and principal of Derfel Injury Lawyers.

With libations such as beer and wine, he says people may have a general sense of how much they can have, plus the signs of impairment are usually more visible.

“With pot, intoxication is not so apparent,” Derfel says, “and it affects people in different ways.”

Plus, he says the level of impairment with cannabis may be much harder to control, depending on how much was inhaled, the potency of the product and the length of time it will affect the user.

Derfel notes that the duration of marijuana impairment was an issue in a recent judicial review in Newfoundland and Labrador, involving a man who was turned down for a construction job after admitting to using medicinal pot.

Testifying for the union representing the man, one doctor said that the significant impairing effect from vaporizing the drug should dissipate within two hours, the judgment notes, while a doctor for the company said pot impairment could last up to 24 hours.

“If someone is new to cannabis, it will have a real, yet uncertain, impact on them,” Derfel says.

Once edible cannabis products become legal in October, Derfel says it’s generally expected that many people who have not inhaled cannabis will experiment with it.

“The impairing effects will be much greater for them.”

He says hosts have to realize they could be held liable for injuries tied to drug use in their home.

“If you are providing or allowing intoxicants, you could bear some responsibility for what happens after your guests leave the premises,” Derfel says.

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