Policing legal pot in Edmonton will cost upwards of $7M: chief

File Photo: Growing flowers of cannabis.
File Photo: Growing flowers of cannabis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

Edmonton police are not ready for marijuana to become legal in Canada next July, according to chief Rod Knecht.

“Are we ready? No, we’re not ready,” Knecht said in a year-end interview with Global News. “I don’t think policing in general across this country is ready.

“This whole issue is going to impact on policing in ways I don’t think we fully understand right now.”

Knecht estimates the policing costs to enforce the new marijuana laws will be between $5 million and $7 million per year, come July 1, 2018 when pot is set to be legalized nation-wide. And before that, Knecht said there are several difficult issues that need to be sorted out.

“There are lots of challenges. There are going to be lots of what we see as potential loopholes, many challenges for police,” Knecht said.

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“The first year is going to be very, very interesting. I think we’re going to see a lot of the challenges and the difficulties the first year of the legislation.”

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor wants share of pot revenue to cover extra police costs

Knecht said police work will become more complicated and organized crime won’t disappear. It’ll be better hidden within the legalized system, the chief said.

“Organized crime will undercut the price. If they don’t undercut the price, they will up the THC level of the drug,” Knecht explained. “Organized crime will just grow better dope at the end of the day. They’ll grow more powerful marijuana.

“We shouldn’t be naive to think that that’s not going to happen. It absolutely will happen.”

READ MORE: Canadian police look for guidance on marijuana legislation

One of the biggest challenges, Knecht said, will be drug-impaired driving and the lack of a roadside test to detect impairment, which will have an impact on the roads and in the courts.

“I think now with drug-impaired driving, we’re going to plug up the court system because most people that are going to get charged, in the first instance, until this is tested through the court system, people are going to plead not guilty and it’s really going to back things up.”

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READ MORE: Legal marijuana could see justice costs climb, not drop, Alberta premier says

Knecht, along with other police chiefs across Alberta, have been vocal about their concerns. While Knecht isn’t thrilled with the timeline, he said the EPS will try to be as ready as it possibly can come July 1.

Watch below: Feds expecting to spend more than $700M to roll out legalized pot

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Feds expecting to spend more than $700M to roll out legalized pot

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