Canada’s top police chief expects officers will issue fewer pot possession charges as the federal government’s plans to legalize and regulate marijuana draw closer to reality.
“As we’re getting closer to that (legalization) date, you’re probably going to see fewer minor possession charges across Canada,” Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police president Clive Weighill said.
Health Minister Jane Philpott announced Wednesday at a special United Nations session on drugs that legislation to begin the process of legalizing and regulating pot will be introduced next spring. The announcement coincided with 4/20, the annual day of celebration of cannabis culture.
Because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned last year on a promise to legalize and regulate recreational use of marijuana, Weighill said Philpott’s announcement didn’t come as a surprise.
However, he expects government officials to create their promised task force to examine the issue and create a road map to legalization.
“By and large, we feel as long as the government does form the task force and does look at the downfalls that have happened in a few of the areas of quick legalization, Washington and Colorado, and make sure that we spend the time and get it right,” Weighill said.
Ottawa must address three key issues on the road to legalization, Weighill said, including keeping pot out of the hands of minors, something Philpott echoed in her speech. She added that Canada’s approach to legalization will address the devastating consequences of drugs and drug-related crimes.
Officers must also receive the necessary training and equipment to detect impairment, Weighill said.
Following the legalization of marijuana in several American states and the Liberal’s promise, several North American companies have already begun development of breathalyzers to detect THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot, among suspected cannabis-impaired drivers.
Weighill said police have largely focused on wholesale movement and large sales of marijuana and he is pleased to see there will still be laws about who can buy, sell or grow the plant.
He said he wants to be part of Ottawa’s task force in the days ahead.
With files from News Talk’s Bryn Levy