October 5, 2018 7:19 pm

From driving to dispensaries: Halifax police prepare for cannabis legalization

Halifax Regional Police are expecting an increase in nuisance calls when cannabis becomes legal.

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As far as Oct. 17 is concerned, the officer-in-charge of all investigative units with the Halifax Regional Police says, “We’re not anticipating any marked increase in police presence — that day will come and go as a regular day.”

Supt. Jim Perrin of Halifax Regional Police has been a police officer for 29 years and feels one of the main areas of cannabis legalization that will require adjusting to is the fact that it’s actually going to be legal.

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“Everyone has to get their head around that and obviously the government is going to be clear on what’s going to be legal, what’s going to not be legal and we need to tailor our enforcement around that,” Perrin said.

READ MORE: NSLC orders 3.75M grams of cannabis to stock stores ahead of legalization

One area that will remain illegal is dispensaries in Nova Scotia.

Perrin says there are approximately 24 in operation within the municipality and although they all haven’t been raided, officers have them on their radar.

“We’ve searched approximately 15 in the last year and a half. They are illegal and will continue to be illegal and continued operation of a dispensary, the people who are working there or behind the business shouldn’t be surprised if they come in contact with the police as far as an investigation goes,” he said.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia marijuana dispensary owners plan to fight to stay open post-legalization

Another area that police will need to prepare for is determining whether or not someone is driving under the influence of cannabis.

Perrin says officers are well trained for that.

“We have drug recognition experts that put people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs through a myriad of tests. We have standard field sobriety testing that we’ve put in the hands of our police officers. So, impaired driving by drugs is not anything new to us,” Perrin said.

READ MORE: More Nova Scotia officers to be trained as drug recognition experts: RCMP

In terms of determining what kind of response police may have to take to enforce the municipality’s new smoking ban, Perrin says officers are prepared for increased nuisance calls.

“I think we’re going to see a spike in calls for service in the initial days and weeks just because this is such a new phenomenon for everybody. I know our priorities are going to be very much in line with what the legislation is. Keep marijuana away from youth, keep the roads safe and focus on any criminal enterprise that adds to the violence in our communities. So, that will be our main focus,” Perrin said.

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