Regina police anticipate legal marijuana will cost at least $1.2M annually

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Regina police estimate legal marijuana will cost at least $1.2M
Regina police estimate legal marijuana will cost at least $1.2M – Feb 12, 2018

The Regina Police Service (RPS) anticipates their costs associated with legalized cannabis will be $1.2 million to $1.8 million annually, equaling 1.2 to 1.6 per cent of their net operating budget.

This comes from a report that will be presented to Regina City Council’s executive committee Wednesday.

The report cites an increase to policing costs in other legal cannabis jurisdictions. Part of this forecast includes taking modeling created by the Edmonton Police Service and scaling it for Regina.

Police anticipate increased costs in the areas of education, equipment, training and enforcement. Once approved by the federal government, roadside marijuana screening devices are expected to cost $25,000 in 2018, and then $50,000 from 2019 onwards. RPS says there will be costs associated with training officers to use these devices.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan introduces zero tolerance drug impaired driving rules

Police estimate a single roadside saliva test will cost $25. The federal government will allow blood tests, which come at additional cost.

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The report also says organized crime still plays a role in the cannabis black market following legalization in other jurisdictions. The RPS anticipates continuing having to deal with illegal storefront operations outside of the six legal establishments expected to come to Regina.

The report recommends Mayor Michael Fougere write a letter to the province to formally request revenue from cannabis be provided to the city to recoup all costs.

Currently, 25 per cent of tax revue from marijuana will go to the federal government and 75 per cent will go to the provinces.

READ MORE: Ottawa agrees to give provinces 75% of marijuana tax revenue

It is acknowledged that there are still many unknowns when it comes to the cost of marijuana legalization.

Public pot smoking and purchasing

Regina’s current smoking bylaw is broad enough to include smoking marijuana in public places outdoors. Meaning it will be banned in public parks, sport facilities and other areas you currently can’t smoke or vape in Regina.

However, indoor smoking restrictions in public buildings only apply to tobacco. City administration says there may be a gap that allows smoking marijuana indoors in public buildings.

The provincial government has not yet announced plans to regulate this. Administration recommends city council urge the province to create a provincial rule. Otherwise, the city will have to draft its own bylaw.

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City council will also have to debate how marijuana stores are zoned, and where they will be allowed in Regina.

Administration recommends that city council approve the creation of six marijuana storefronts.

Other provincial regulations the city still has questions about include a minimum age, how these business licenses are applied for, and regulations around growing cannabis for personal use.

Impact on Fire and Protective Services

Regina Fire and Protective Services will be focusing on ensuring fire code regulations are obeyed by legal storefronts, commercial and residential grow operations plus potential nuisance odour complaints.

Under the proposed federal legislation, residents would be allowed to cultivate up to four marijuana plants with a maximum height of one metre. Provinces can implement further restrictions.

Saskatchewan has not announced broad based rules yet, but has given landlords the ability to restrict growing marijuana in rental units.

READ MORE: Sask. legislation to let landlords make the rules on tenants’ use of marijuana

Indoor grow ops can generate a high electric load, which can overload circuits and potentially spark fires. Grow lights also pose a potential fire hazard if left on for long periods near combustible materials.

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With current regulations in place, the Fire Marshal anticipates a minimal public safety risk for fires at commercial growers.

As for odour complaints, the report says this is a subjective issue and there is no specific measure for detecting what may be a nuisance complaint. The report says four residential plants likely won’t be enough to cause odour issues at neigbouring properties.

If odour becomes an issues, a bylaw infraction can be issued.

Regina’s executive committee will discuss this report Wednesday. It will then be forwarded to city council for further debate on February 26.

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