‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Although police are ready for cannabis to be legalized Wednesday, detachments across the country will take a “day-by-day” approach, Canadian Association of Police Chiefs president Adam Palmer told reporters Monday.

“I’m here to tell Canadians that police are ready,” Palmer, who is Vancouver’s police chief, said.

“It’s important to remember that while the legal recreational use of cannabis will new to Canadians, enforcing laws around impaired driving and the illegal production, distribution and consumption of cannabis will not be new to police.”

READ MORE: After 10 years of fighting drunk drivers, Alexa’s Team asks: What about pot?

Canada will become the second country, after Uruguay, to legalize marijuana on Oct. 17.

In B.C., pot will be sold at BC Liquor Distribution Branch operated stores, online and by private retailers.

READ MORE: Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

Currently, only one bricks-and-mortar government store in Kamloops is set to open on Wednesday, and the province said that 62 of the 173 applications for private stores have been sent onto local governments for final approval.

Palmer acknowledged that with 15 per cent of Canadians having used pot in the past three months, it will take time before users move away from the black market.

“Millions and millions of Canadians are smoking pot… almost all of them have gotten it from illegal sources,” said Palmer.

“When the law changes on [Oct.[ 17, you’re not going to see big changes overnight. We’ll change that balance where it’s not coming from an illicit supply, it’s coming from a legitimate supply.”

Palmer said that setting legal pot prices low enough to supplant illicit marijuana dealers will be key to shutting out a black market he says has funded organized crime across Canada for decades.

But despite the new laws, Palmer said that there were “no big raids or anything planned” for Oct. 17 and that enforcement of the country’s new pot laws will have to fit into an already busy police priority list.

READ MORE: B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of 2018

“It’s good to have a clear direction… but in the scheme of things, marijuana is important but it is not the most important thing going on in the country,” Palmer said.

“Fentanyl kills a lot of people… marijuana doesn’t.”

Who will be enforcing the new laws

Things like smoking in prohibited places will likely fall to municipal bylaw officers, while large-scale imports, exports and production will fall to police detachments.

Closing down illegal pot shops will be a joint effort between the province and police, Palmer said.

In B.C., Palmer said that pot will be treated more like alcohol than tobacco.

“You can’t walk down the street and drink a bottle of beer but you will be able to walk down the street and smoke marijuana in this province,” said Palmer.

“If somebody’s walking down the street smoking a cigarette, the police aren’t coming up to them and seeing if that tobacco is purchased at the 7-11 or they purchased it illegally from a tobacco trafficker.”

If people smoke in areas they aren’t allowed to, they won’t be arrested, Palmer noted.

“Nobody’s going to jail for something like that.”

Cracking down on drug-impaired driving

Although the federal government approved the Drager DrugTest 5000 in September, many police forces across Canada won’t be rolling it out right away.

Instead, Palmer said, they’ll be relying on the standard field sobriety test that’s been used for years.

READ MORE: 14% of people admit to driving after smoking pot: Stats Canada

“It doesn’t fit the need for every agency,” said Palmer, noting it would be an “additional tool” for police.

Palmer’s own Vancouver police won’t be using the drug test.

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read