With the legalization of recreational marijuana fast approaching, police across the province have a lot of work to do in a short period of time. The government plans to make cannabis legal by July 1st, 2018.
Figuring out how to police pot users is just one of the hot topics on the agenda during a two-day meeting that began Monday in Kingston featuring some of Ontario’s top cops.
Training is top of mind. In this province alone, 20,000 officers will need to be trained. But there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to what it will consist of.
“The cost to send officers to the United States to be trained, as well as the availability of training courses is very challenging,” said Chief Bryan Larkin of the Waterloo Regional Police Service. “We need to double the number of drug recognition experts in the province.”
Larkin, who is also the President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, added that the intense training will be in addition to organizations’ day-to-day operations in their respective communities.
Another unknown — the cost. There’s no definitive price tag. Which means services like Kingston Police don’t know how much to budget.
“I’m going to have to put a very general base regarding the budget as to what it would cost but I have no idea at this point,” said Chief Gilles Larochelle of Kingston Police.
The association is clear on one thing though: The chiefs are advocating for a zero tolerance when it comes to being high behind the wheel.
“Until the science of detecting cannabis, until the devices are approved, it’s our position that there should be a hard line,” said Chief Larkin. He added it’s the responsibility of police leaders to ensure safer roadways.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has made it clear they want the federal government to postpone the legalization date saying they won’t be ready to enforce the new laws by next summer. And while the extra time would be helpful, Ontario’s police leaders continue to work on a game plan to make sure they are ready.