No need to hastily strike the match on le­gal pot

Ottawa Sun - - COMMENT -

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.

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