On April 13 the Federal Government introduced legislation that will look to make possession and use of marijuana legal in Canada by July of 2018. This will mean a lot of changes for law enforcement as they move from a substance being illegal to legal.
Moose Jaw Police Chief Rick Bourassa said that while they don’t have an opinion on any legislation, they do have three main concerns.
“For the policing world, and for us in Moose Jaw, there were three elements that we were expressing some willingness to participate in the discussion. One was around the whole issue of impaired driving and detecting impaired driving...Another area...is that whatever regime is implemented, is that it has tools in place to keep the distribution and production of marijuana out of the organized crime world. And the third area we focused on was to have a regime that keeps it out of the hands of young people.”
He said it may take some time for officers to get used to dealing with a substance that was at one time illegal, but they will adapt quickly.
“We’re pretty flexible. One of the key things for us is to always make sure that we are engaged...at the right level. We never want to be too draconian and black and white in our thinking, nor do we want to be too permissive. That’s always the challenge, is finding that ‘right place’ when we’re dealing with a lot of these issues.”
Bourassa said the officers have some experience dealing with medical marijuana, so this will be more of an extension of that. Several officers have also received training and are drug recognition experts, with more soon to be added to that list.
All things considered, Bourassa is confident they will be able to handle it.
“We’re pretty adaptable. We will work our way through it and make sure we are in the right place.”