Po­lice tar­get driv­ers for pot of­fences

Tick­ets is­sued for im­pair­ment, rolling joint in ve­hi­cle, pos­sess­ing un­lit pipe con­tain­ing bud

The Province - - NEWS - NICK EAGLAND neagland@post­media.com twit­ter.com/nick­eagland

Fol­low­ing the le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational pot, B.C. po­lice have been more con­cerned with traf­fic than traf­fick­ing.

The new B.C. Cannabis Con­trol and Li­cens­ing Act bans smok­ing or va­p­ing in places where to­bacco is pro­hib­ited, in places fre­quently used by chil­dren such as parks and on school prop­er­ties and in ve­hi­cles. The govern­ment has set a limit for pos­ses­sion in a pub­lic place at 30 grams.

Van­cou­ver po­lice have is­sued 18 traf­fic tick­ets for cannabis of­fences since Oct. 17, in­clud­ing six that in­volved im­pair­ment and which led to four 24-hour driv­ing sus­pen­sions, spokes­woman Simi Heer said in an email.

Dur­ing that time, they is­sued four non-traf­fic pot tick­ets, in­clud­ing two for smok­ing or va­p­ing in an out­door pub­lic place, one for pos­ses­sion of more than 30 grams in pub­lic and one for pub­lic in­tox­i­ca­tion. In one case, charges were rec­om­mended un­der the fed­eral Cannabis Act as well as the Crim­i­nal Code.

“Our pub­lic safety and en­force­ment pri­or­i­ties have not changed since the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis,” Heer said. “On the in­ves­tiga­tive side, we are con­tin­u­ing to fo­cus our ef­forts on the fen­tanyl cri­sis and tar­get­ing high level man­u­fac­tur­ers and dis­trib­u­tors.”

Neil Boyd, a crim­i­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Si­mon Fraser Uni­ver­sity, said he ex­pected pot-re­lated traf­fic of­fences, not pos­ses­sion, to re­main a pri­or­ity for po­lice.

“I don’t think po­lice want to make de­ter­mi­na­tions about the dis­tinc­tion be­tween licit and il­licit cannabis,” Boyd said, re­fer­ring to the re­quire­ment that recre­ational pot only be bought through the B.C. Liquor Dis­tri­bu­tion Branch.

“What I do ex­pect to see are ad­min­is­tra­tive high­way-traf­fic penal­ties for peo­ple who are con­sum­ing in their cars. We’ve al­ready seen that and I have no prob­lem with that, I think it makes good sense. If you’re smok­ing and driv­ing, you may not be charged crim­i­nally but you’re go­ing to be charged a hefty fine.”

Po­lice out­side of Van­cou­ver have dealt out at least a hand­ful of penal­ties since Oct. 17.

On Tues­day, a Cal­gary man was stopped by West Van­cou- ver po­lice at a road­block and given a $230 ticket for hav­ing an un­lit pipe con­tain­ing bud in­side his Jeep.

Last month, Oak Bay po­lice gave a teen a ticket af­ter he was caught rolling a joint in a parked ve­hi­cle, just over a week af­ter Saanich po­lice gave a ticket to a pas­sen­ger smok­ing a joint in­side a ve­hi­cle.

The Min­istry of Pub­lic Safety and Solic­i­tor Gen­eral said in an email that it can’t yet pro­vide num­bers for pot of­fences since le­gal­iza­tion.

“Pro­hi­bi­tion data typ­i­cally re­quires a few months to set­tle be­fore an ac­cu­rate re­flec­tion on pro­hi­bi­tion vol­umes can be re­ported,” the min­istry said. “The same ap­plies for any other cannabis-re­lated ticket of­fences.”

B.C. RCMP data on pot seizures and ar­rests are also not yet avail­able, ac­cord­ing to a spokes­woman.

“The statis­tics will need to be first val­i­dated at which point the in­for­ma­tion will be pro­vided to the B.C. pro­vin­cial govern­ment which is re­spon­si­ble for col­lect­ing and col­lat­ing the statis­tics,” Sgt. Janelle Shoi­het said in an email.

Over­all, cannabis of­fences re­ported last year by B.C. po­lice dropped about 17 per cent com­pared to 2016, ac­cord­ing to a Septem­ber re­port by the Min­istry of Pub­lic Safety and Solic­i­tor Gen­eral.

For the 10,114 cannabis of­fences re­ported in 2017, 2,139 peo­ple were charged (21 per cent), com­pared to charge rates of 45 per cent for co­caine and 38 per cent each for heroin and metham­phetamine.

— THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A 23-year-old Cal­gary driver was is­sued West Van­cou­ver’s first cannabis ticket Tues­day. There was no in­di­ca­tion that the driver was im­paired so he was al­lowed to go but not be­fore be­ing handed a $230 ticket un­der the new B.C. Cannabis Con­trol and Li­cens­ing Act.

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