How much will it cost to police marijuana in Saskatoon once it becomes legalized?
A recent report from the Saskatoon Police Service estimates the cost at over $500,000 in the first full year of marijuana legalization.
One expense is training additional drug recognition experts, which comes at a cost to other areas of the force.
“An officer who’s away for three weeks in training to become a drug recognition expert, we miss the opportunity of having that officer doing drug enforcement, doing traffic enforcement and even generating revenue for the province through that enforcement,” said Saskatoon police Chief Troy Cooper.
“Primarily our concern is that he’s not available to us.”
Other costs include teaching police dogs not to seek out marijuana, training officers on the new rules and regulations, and purchasing roadside screening devices.
An excise duty will be applied to cannabis, with the federal government passing 75 per cent back to the province.
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark wants some of that money to go back to the city to offset costs.
“Some of that should go to municipalities for policing and administrative and bylaws and all the other costs we’ve identified, and nobody has committed to that,” Clark said.
The Saskatchewan government has not yet said if, or how much of that revenue will be shared and did not forecast projected revenues in the 2018-19 budget, stating it is unclear what the size of the market and the retail price will be.
The report is being forwarded on to several MLAs, relevant cabinet ministers and the premier’s office.
“All we’re saying is if there is revenue generated through the excise tax and there’s costs created through policing and all these other things, the revenue should follow the costs,” Clarke explained.
The anticipated costs to the city from the date of legalization until the end of the year have not been factored into the city’s budget.