Police Ask Government to Postpone Date for Legal Pot beyond July 2018

By Rabson, Mia | The Canadian Press, September 12, 2017 | Go to article overview

Police Ask Government to Postpone Date for Legal Pot beyond July 2018


Rabson, Mia, The Canadian Press


Give us more time before legal pot: police

--

OTTAWA - Canada's police services say there is zero chance they will be ready to enforce new laws for legalized pot by next summer.

That was the main message delivered to MPs on the House of Commons health committee Tuesday which is meeting this week to study federal legislation to legalize marijuana.

Officials from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Ontario Provincial Police and the Saskatoon Police Service said they need more time to properly train officers about the new laws and more than double the number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug impaired driving testing. There also needs to be more time for public education, the police said.

If the government doesn't postpone the start date, there will be a window of six months to a year when police aren't fully ready, which will allow organized crime to flourish, said OPP deputy commissioner for investigations and organized crime Rick Barnum.

"If legislation is ready to go July 2018, policing will not be ready to go August 1," Barnum said. "It's impossible. The time, the damage that can be done between the time of new legislation and police officers ready to enforce the law in six months or a year can make it very, very hard to ever regain that foothold."

Barnum said the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police officially wrote to the government this week to request a delay in implementation. The Liberals have pledged pot will be legal in Canada by the summer of 2018.

The police also want Ottawa to reconsider allowing individuals to grow up to four of their own marijuana plants because it will be difficult and expensive to enforce and provide an additional way for young people to get access to pot.

Barnum said with legal options for buying pot there is no need to open the door to additional headaches of policing legal home grow operations.

The committee also heard from a number of U.S. experts involved in implementing legalized marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington. Andrew Freedman, who was until recently Colorado's director of marijuana policy, said four plants isn't a lot but he warned officials will need to write laws in such a way to prevent people from grouping their four-plants to make a major marijuana production stream. …

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