Lethbridge police chief Rob Davis says it’s too soon to tell if the community is ready to usher in an era of recreational cannabis use.
The way marijuana is policed in Canada is about to make a seismic shift and it will be up to the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) to ensure the new laws of the land are being followed within city limits.
“I’d just encourage people to use some common sense as we roll out,” Davis said.
“If common sense can be exercised then we’re on the right path to a good start.”
LPS will be tasked with upholding the new legalized cannabis rules, such as personal possession limits as well as forms of the drug that are legal.
Police say there will not be a targeted enforcement plan and it will largely be business as usual dealing with complaints on a case-by-case basis, as well as any impaired driving infractions.
As for pot in someone’s personal possession, officials admit they will not be enforcing how it was acquired.
“What we know and what we can prove are of course two totally different things as with everything in police work,” said Sgt. Wade Davidson.
“As there are legal ways to acquire it in both Calgary and Medicine Hat, I don’t think it would be fair of the police to assume that it was illegally acquired in Lethbridge.”
All front line LPS officers will also be receiving training in both the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act and new impaired driving rules.
When it comes to the regulated sale of cannabis, 17 stores will open across the province but none will be open in Lethbridge for legalization day.
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The closest retailers will be in Medicine Hat where three stores will open on Wednesday.
Two stores are also approved for Calgary, while the Edmonton area will be home to the bulk of locations with 12.
Watch below: How do officers test drivers they suspect are impaired? Cpl. Richard Nowak with the Alberta RCMP puts on a demonstration of the standardized field sobriety test. He said it’s effective in testing people who may be impaired by alcohol and drugs.
The City of Lethbridge says it’s issued development permits for 23 retail cannabis stores, but it’s the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) that issues the final licence before a store can open.
Forty applications from Lethbridge have been filed for retail cannabis locations through the AGLC, as city development permits can be filed later.
The application process takes several months to complete, which the AGLC says can create challenges when it comes to how soon a retailer can open its doors.
The agency could not provide a timeline as to when the first stores in Lethbridge could open.
“The biggest part of that process is the background checks and the due diligence, which can take two to four months depending on the complexity of their organization,” said Chara Goodings, a senior communications officer with the AGLC.
The province will also be launching online sales for marijuana through its website www.albertacannabis.org.
Orders through the site will be delivered directly to the buyer’s door.
Consuming marijuana in public within Lethbridge city limits will be allowed, but under provincial rules prohibited in and around places where tobacco is not allowed like schools and hospitals.
The city says it will be monitoring the legal use of cannabis to determine if any additional restrictions are needed.