Marijuana still illegal until federal bill kicks in, London police chief says

London police chief John Pare pictured on January 4, 2018. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

London’s Police chief John Pare is echoing the federal government’s reminder that, for the time being, marijuana is still illegal.

READ MORE: Marijuana legalization Bill C-45 officially passes Senate vote, heading for royal assent

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to accept the latest version of Bill C-45, paving the way for the bill to become Canadian law.

With legalization on the horizon, Pare told 980 CFPL it will be up to individual officers to judge how to proceed if they find someone consuming cannabis in the meantime.

“The discretion an officer may have in a situation they’ll have to look at, but the reality is until the law is off the books it is the law.”

Pare added that he still has concerns about access for youth, the involvement of organized crime, and in particular the impact on impaired driving.

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READ MORE: Over half of Canadian workplaces are ‘concerned’ about dealing with legal weed: Report

“Based on what we hear out of some of the states that legalize, (there is an) increase in impaired driving,” he explained.

“[We’re focusing] a lot around the education piece to prevent that from happening and preparing our officers with trying to get the standard field sobriety testing throughout our organization and drug recognition experts as well.”

The next and final step in the legislative process is royal assent, which could happen in days at the government’s discretion.

Even after that, there would be another eight to 12 weeks before the law comes into effect.