December 13, 2018 5:14 pm

Montreal creates police task force to crack down on illegal cannabis

The task force will consist of 26 police officers and two administrative staff members.

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The City of Montreal is launching a specialized police team to exclusively crack down on illegal cannabis.

A total of $1.3. million is earmarked by the city’s executive committee to fund the task force. The Quebec government is also providing the funding under its ACCES Cannabis program.

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READ MORE: Montreal police must be ‘fit for duty’ but will be allowed to smoke marijuana on personal time

“The creation of a team of the SPVM reserved exclusively for the fight against the black cannabis market is part of the harm reduction approach, an approach advocated by our administration,” said Rosannie Filato, the executive committee member responsible for social and community development.

“These police officers will work in the field to conduct investigations in order to ensure the safety of the Montreal population.”

Under the Montreal police, the task force will consist of 26 police officers and two administrative staff.

In Quebec, only the province’s Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) is authorized to sell recreational marijuana since it became legal across Canada on Oct. 17.

The SQDC reduced its operating hours by nearly half due to supply shortages in late October. Branches across the province are open from Thursday to Sunday until a stable supply of products become available.

WATCH: The Quebec government has tabled legislation that will see the legal age to consume marijuana raised to 21

The city’s move to create the task force comes one week after the new Coalition Avenir Québec government tabled legislation that would impose the strictest cannabis rules in the country — including raising the legal age from 18 to 21.

Under Bill 2, cannabis consumption would be prohibited in all public places, including parks and streets.

READ MORE: Quebec moves to raise legal age to consume cannabis to 21

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the bill undermines the city’s autonomy and leaves many renters in Montreal without a place to consume legalized marijuana.

The provincial government hopes the bill will pass into law in March 2019.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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