An alcoholic beverage is seen in a drinking establishment in Halifax on Aug. 1, 2018. A parliamentary committee is recommending the federal government launch a public awareness campaign to plainly explain an "extreme intoxication" policy that caused confusion when it was rushed into law earlier this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Parliamentary study says government should explain new extreme intoxication law

A parliamentary committee is recommending the federal government launch a public awareness campaign to plainly explain an extreme intoxication policy that caused confusion when it was rushed into law earlier this year.

The law, which was passed in June, updates the Criminal Code after a Supreme Court ruling struck down the ban on using self-induced intoxication as a legal defence in a criminal case.

The new law says “extreme intoxication” renders a person unaware of, or incapable of consciously controlling, their behaviour — something the government says is a high bar that is rarely met.

Courts now need to consider whether it was foreseeable that taking drugs or alcohol could cause extreme intoxication and lead the defendant to harm someone else.

The parliamentary committee studying the law after its passage is recommending the government launch a public awareness campaign to “communicate in plain language” the practical effects of the new law, and why it was needed.

It is also recommending the government keep data on the use of “extreme intoxication” as a defence and review the law in three years.

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