With cannabis legalization happening in just one day – October 17 – Canadian police say no sweat, they’re ready to roll.
The head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), Adam Palmer, held a press conference on the eve of Canada's historic cannabis legalization wherein he outlined the CACP’s plans.
“While the legal recreational use of cannabis will be new for Canadians come Wednesday, enforcing laws around impaired driving, and the illegal production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis will not be new to police,” said Palmer, who is also the chief of the Vancouver Police Department.
The police chief added that cops will basically be responding to emergencies and public safety issues as usual and that enforcing new cannabis laws “will be an ongoing process.”
Applying the new laws will require a “concerted approach,” Palmer told reporters, among the various public safety and law enforcement agencies who will be dealing with the various regulations as they roll out.
Don’t Drive Stoned
Palmer said enforcing new laws around legal weed will be "a work in progress." However, he reminded people that police have been dealing with drug-impaired driving for decades.
Canadian police have “well-established techniques to detect impairment that has successfully passed the tests of the courts in Canada for many years,” and will continue to rely on the standard field sobriety testing and drug recognition experts.
Canada has some 13,000 police officers trained in standard field sobriety testing, “and we are expecting this number to rise to 20,000 within the next several years,” Palmer said at the press conference in Vancouver.
As for cannabis use by Canadian police officers, Palmer said a one-size-fits-all approach “will not meet the needs” of all police services in Canada, adding that these decisions need to be made by individual police service agencies, of which there are at least 140.
Palmer doubted there will be raids on stores currently selling illegal cannabis, pointing out that despite the attention around legalization, cannabis is not a top concern for police when it comes to public safety.
"The marijuana trade is important but it's not the most important drug issue going on in Canada today," Palmer noted, per the CBC.
"Fentanyl kills 11 Canadians a day. Marijuana does not."