The legalization of marijuana across the country is only hours away, and that was the hot topic at Tuesday’s Durham Regional Police Services board meeting.
After months of consultations and preparation, the police chief is confident his team will be ready.
Leading up to midnight, there’s sure to be countdowns across the country.
Like the New Year’s celebration back in 2000, Durham Regional Police Association president Randy Henning believes the legalization of marijuana will be similar to Y2K.
“I don’t think the sky is going to be falling,” Henning said. “I think we’ll wake up on Thursday morning and Wednesday will have come and gone.”
Tuesday’s Durham Regional Police Services board meeting seemed to have more answers than questions ahead of legalization.
But the message from police chief Paul Martin is simple: do not use cannabis and drive.
His team of 130 officers are trained and ready to be standard field sobriety testers.
“We’re about as ready as we’re ever going to be,” Martin said. “I think the important thing to keep in mind is when we talk about impaired driving and impaired by drug we’ve always had it. I think there is a greater expectation with the legalization of marijuana that there will be more impairment, we’ll have to wait and see on that.”
Police are expecting a higher number of calls early on.
“There maybe an initial uptick but then it will level off at some point in time,” Martin said. “We’re prepared to deal with that and that’s why we’ve had the discussion with our bylaw friends across the region in municipalities, is hopefully together, collaboratively, we can deal with some of these issues.”
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And while police services around the country have different rules and regulations when it comes to officers using marijuana, DRPS isn’t as strict as others like Calgary or Toronto.
“Whether it’s alcohol, prescription drugs, whether it’s been prescribed medical marijuana, you have to be fit for duty,” said Martin.
“If a member’s fit for duty, they should be allowed to consume the marijuana no different then they can alcohol,” said Henning.
While you can purchase marijuana online through the government store come Wednesday, store front operations remain illegal.
Police will continue to enforce the law until licenced operations are given the green light in the spring.