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More than 200 cannabis charges in Saskatoon since legalization: report

SThe Saskatoon Police Service has 14 members trained as drug recognition experts.
SThe Saskatoon Police Service has 14 members trained as drug recognition experts. Files / Global News

A report by the Saskatoon police shows that more than 200 charges were laid since cannabis was legalized in Canada.

In total, 11 federal charges, 187 provincial charges and eight criminal code charges related to cannabis were recorded in the year after Oct. 17, 2018.

The report also says the police “experienced fewer issues than were expected.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan to phase in open market for cannabis retail in 2020

Roadside testing

The report said the police were given a Draeger 5000 Roadside testing device — used to test driver drug impairment — by SGI in January at no cost and that it wasn’t used until July because no officers had received training until then.

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The report says the police “has one device which it has deployed at every sobriety checkpoint since July 2019.” It has been used 12 times.

Training

The total cost of training, from 2017 until 2019, is estimated to be almost $370,000. The report says the costs were funded through existing budgets and caused other training programs to be reprioritized. The majority of the costs were from members missing regular duty to attend training sessions.

Cannabis use rules for Saskatchewan law enforcement officers
Cannabis use rules for Saskatchewan law enforcement officers

An online training program, scheduled to be released in December, will provide officers with the necessary skills to conduct investigations in cannabis offences including edibles. Cannabis edibles were legalized in Canada in October of this year.

READ MORE: Cannabis edibles expected to hit Canadian shelves mid-December

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The report distinguishes between charges made under the federal Cannabis Act, the Cannabis Control (Saskatchewan) Act and Canada’s Criminal Code.

It said investigations from the Cannabis Act “have not had a significant impact on the SPS (Saskatoon Police Service).” It also says that investigations stemming from the provincial Act initially impacted the police and that the “robust approach in investigating and charging” of an unlicensed cannabis outlet “appears to have stopped their establishment in Saskatoon.”

According to the report, 41 people were charged under the criminal code for impaired driving, of which eight were related to cannabis. As well, 50 people under the age of 18 were charged with possession of cannabis and 55 people were charged with either possessing, consuming or distributing it in a vehicle.

READ MORE: Sask. police have used Drager DrugTests a few dozen times

The report says the investigation cost almost $18,000 in wages and approximately 305 hours.