Ready or Not, Le­gal­iza­tion will Come

Policy - - Before The Bell | From The Editor - BY MARIO HAREL

Mem­bers of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice ECACPF have been ramp­ing up to be as ready as pos­si­ble for the loom­ing le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. How­ever, there are a few out­stand­ing is­sues that are hav­ing an im­pact on po­lice readi­ness.

Leg­is­la­tion is not yet fi­nal

Fed­eral leg­is­la­tion re­gard­ing cannabis growth, distri­bu­tion and im­paired driv­ing is quite ad­vanced, but a num­ber of ar­ti­cles are still be­ing dis­cussed. There are still many un­knowns with re­spect to provin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal reg­u­la­tions out­lin­ing the rules for points of sale and pub­lic con­sump­tion. Only when leg­is­la­tion is fi­nal­ized can the po­lice truly de­ter­mine the po­ten­tial im­pact on re­sources, tools and/or train­ing.

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the new laws, the CACP is pleased to be work­ing with the RCMP, Pub­lic Safety Canada and the Cana­dian Po­lice Knowl­edge Net­work to de­velop an In­tro­duc­tion to Cannabis on­line train­ing mod­ule we hope to start de­liv­er­ing in July of 2018.

Im­paired driv­ing: Our num­ber one con­cern

The good news is that an es­ti­mated 3,380 Cana­dian po­lice of­fi­cers are al­ready trained to con­duct road-side Stan­dard­ized Field So­bri­ety Test­ing (SFST) with an ad­di­tional 650 of­fi­cers cer­ti­fied as Drug Recog­ni­tion Ex­perts (DREs). The bad news is, we ex­pect to have to dou­ble these numbers to ad­dress the pro­jected in­crease in im­paired driv­ing. The ca­pac­ity is cur­rently not there to de­liver the amount of train­ing re­quired in the short-term. We are work­ing with po­lice col­leges and part­ners to in­crease our ca­pac­ity.

With re­spect to oral fluid drug screen­ing de­vices, the Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil has not yet com­pleted its as­sess­ment of po­ten­tial tools, and stan­dards have yet to be ap­proved by the At­tor­ney den­eral of Canada.

While we ap­plaud the $81 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing to sup­port po­lice readi­ness, de­tails re­gard­ing how the fund­ing will be

al­lo­cated through the prov­inces and into the hands of mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vices still re­main un­clear.

As a re­sult, po­lice ser­vices are, for the most part, un­able to bud­get and plan for the pur­chase of de­vices, of­fi­cer train­ing and other costs.

Li­censed distri­bu­tion net­work

The price of le­gal­ized cannabis has yet to be set but must be as low or lower than mar­i­juana sold on the “black mar­ket” to dis­cour­age price un­der­cut­ting and il­licit sales. There must also be stricter se­cu­rity clearance re­quire­ments to safe­guard against crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions be­com­ing li­censed grow­ers and dis­trib­u­tors.

There are many myths and mis­con­cep­tions to be dis­pelled. This is why the CACP stresses the need for clear pack­ag­ing and la­bel­ing, com­bined with strong and sus­tained ed­u­ca­tion cam­paigns to in­crease aware­ness about the dan­gers and/or penal­ties of con­sump­tion, traf­fick­ing and im­paired driv­ing.

While po­lice agencies may not be 100 per cent ready on day one; we will max­i­mize our re­sources, adopt a phased ap­proach and keep as­sess­ing our progress. We are con­fi­dent in our abil­ity to keep

Cana­dian com­mu­ni­ties and roads safe.

Mario Harel, O.O.M. is Chief of Po­lice for the city of Gatineau and Pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice.

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