No need to hastily strike the match on legal pot
Canada’s and Ontario’s top cops have told the federal Liberal government it is moving too quickly on legalizing recreational pot. A delay might be necessary.
The government should listen carefully to what law enforcement officers are saying. Whether or not one thinks it’s a good idea to make marijuana legal for recreational use, the fact that police are worried about the timelines is troubling. It’s a problem for us all if pot is legalized without proper preparation to keep public order and uphold the rules.
In a parliamentary committee last week, police chiefs’ associations said they needed more time to train officers about the incoming laws, and will need to double the number of cops who have the expertise to test for drug-impaired driving. Plus, more public education is needed.
Whatever one thinks of legal pot, these are reasonable concerns. If the Justin Trudeau Liberals are steaming ahead on a quick timetable just to fulfil an election promise, neglecting the very serious concerns here, that’s an issue.
Nothing this important, which will affect all Canadian families, should be done without taking the time to do it right.
Rick Barnum, an Ontario Provincial Police deputy commissioner, said if the Liberals go ahead with their July 1, 2018 deadline to pass legislation legalizing recreational cannabis, there will be a six-month to yearlong period during which cops won’t be able to handle the new world. Yikes. Nobody wants this. The police have many concerns, from funding changes in law enforcement to understanding specifics of how many plants (and how big) will be allowed in residences. They fear apartment complexes being turned into grow-ops.
Answers must be forthcoming from this government on how it will tackle such concerns. Everyone wants to get this right, to eliminate black markets and keep people — especially children — safe.
We rely on police to enforce the laws. They’re responsible for cracking down on impaired driving — a huge concern of all Canadians. They need the resources, and Canadians need to know they’re getting the resources. We also need to know the cost of those resources; the Ottawa Police Service, for instance, is already hinting that its next budget will be a strain on the taxpayers’ pocketbook, even without knowing the precise costs associated with legal pot.
In its written brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, which is studying the pot bill, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said it needs “explicit regulations prior to legalization, or … postponement of the legalization date,” in order to properly handle the changes.
The government should listen. The safety of Canadians is more important than an election promise. Delay the bill, if necessary.