Regina Police Chief Evan Bray is confident the city is prepared when marijuana becomes legal Wednesday.
“As a community, there’s going to be some growing pains. That’s going to be the case across Canada, but absolutely we’re ready and we’re hoping we can keep the city safe,” Bray told 980 CJME’s Greg Morgan on Tuesday morning.
Keeping the roads safe will be one of the top priorities for police and Bray said their officers are trained to recognize signs of impairment and several of them are trained as drug recognition experts (DRE) who can provide evidence in court.
Saskatchewan has applied a zero tolerance policy for any drug-impaired drivers along with tough penalties.
“It’s not randomly testing people with an instrument to measure whether or not they have it in their body,” Bray said.
“If we see someone displaying signs of impairment, weaving on the road … only then would we be looking at administering a test for marijuana. We can administer random tests in spot checks for alcohol. That’s not the case for marijuana. It comes down to displayed signs of intoxication.”
Police will also be educating the public on the risks of driving high, Bray added.
Earlier this year, the Desjardins Group polled more than 3,000 people of driving age across Canada. The survey found that many in Saskatchewan believe the legalization of cannabis will make impaired driving worse in a province that already sees the highest rate of it in Canada.
Eighty-four per cent of respondents in Saskatchewan did not believe police have the tools to detect those driving while impaired by pot.
The chief said they should receive a device for roadside saliva tests in a month. But he adds they need to store their Draeger 5000 in a heated vehicle, as it encounters some “sensitivities” in the cold.
Bray also said public consumption will be prohibited, though officers can use discretion on enforcement.
“It’s the same subjective test of alcohol. If we saw someone walking down the street, drinking a beer, chances are, we tell them you can’t do that, pour it out. But technically, you could write a ticket for it,” he said.