Police in Canada Aren’t Prepared for July Legalization

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Tuesday, Sep. 12 marked the second day of hearings for the House of Commons Health Committee on Bill C-45, the legislation which will eventually legalize adult-use cannabis in Canada. During the proceedings, testimony from Canada’s police voiced significant concerns from the law enforcement community.

Senior police officials testified that the cops will not be ready for the July 2018 legalization deadline and have requested more time.

“If legislation is ready to go July 2018, policing will not be ready to go August 1st. It’s impossible,” said Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Rick Barnum. “This is a great step, but we’ve got to do it right and do it slowly and properly.”

Under the proposed legislation, police will have new directives in the areas of impaired driving and cannabis trafficking enforcement, as well as other enforcement responsibilities.

The outcry from police was joined by comments from Kevin Sabet, the president of US-based prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “The only people that benefit from speed in this issue are the business people that are really waiting to get rich. There is no benefit to going fast on this issue at all,” said Sabet.

Although marijuana legalization was promised by Prime Minister Trudeau during his election campaign, and huge steps have been taken to move legislation forward including the introduction of the bill, Sabet took the opportunity to suggest ending the idea altogether.

“I understand it maybe too late, but I still think that forgoing legalization in favor of reducing criminal sanctions and deterring marijuana use is the best way from public health,” he said. 

Reducing criminal sanctions was highly unlikely from the get-go, considering the federal government has gone on record calling the 94-year prohibition of cannabis an “abject failure.

Thomas Carrique, the co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Organized Crime Committee doesn’t appear confident in his officers’ ability to adapt quickly to the changing landscape either. Carrique added to the discord by stating that a lack of proper training for police on cannabis enforcement can lead to poor decisions and bad case law.

“This legislation will not eliminate organized crime, but there is an opportunity to mitigate the impact organized crime has on our communities,” said Carrique.

The Standing Committee on Health is holding a full week of uninterrupted hearings, with a wide variety of experts and stakeholders testifying on the effects of marijuana legalization.

Photo courtesy of Scott Davidson

About Author

Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

3 Comments

  1. The police have had plenty of time to get ready!!! Almost two years and now at the forefront of full legalization the leadership of the police department doesn’t have confidence in his officers to do their jobs when it concerns cannabis use and driving. Well it sounds like a lack of training on his part!!! Also sounds like he is just dragging his ass because he doesn’t want to loose the federal dollars his police department is receiving to incarcerate cannabis users. Something like what happens here in the U.S. And to top it off they have that TOTAL IDIOT SABET putting his worthless 1/2 cents in the mix!!! Can’t get his way in the U.S. so he heads north our great neighbors and tries his tactics there.

  2. Well as the man that in many ways made this happen here in Canada
    I laughed out loud when I heard this news actually
    That is the dumbest thing i have heard out of the bully brigade EVER PERIOD
    I can’t believe they can’t wrap their heads around…..just stop persecuting cannabis users….like they must of had a hard time when we legalized same sex marriage and some of them obviously still must have wanted to beat and jail some gays still ….wow
    Very telling mindset this shows
    I always said when we re legalized pot we would have the police jailing the fat because they need some one to bully don’t they

    But then my story ….which no one ever gets to hear it seems what with them these days even making me slowly disappear even from Google (750,000 links now down to 1200 or so )
    But in a nutshell with one quick point my disgust had me posting only a couple of things on Facebook over the last year or two
    One was how I should just douce my self with gasoline in front of Canada’s Parliament buildings so that just like the little girl here in Canada who killed herself over being bullied to extremes someone then may finally look at what i had been saying for over 24 years
    Then again I think about a year later I wrote ….putting bill blair the Toronto ex chief of police in charge of the liberals plan to re legalized cannabis while I was getting blackballed out of my liberal executive seat in a horrible undeserved embarrassing episode … was like putting willy picton (convicted vancouver mass women murderer ) in charge of the missing women’s inquiry here in Canada …..

    Alas a week or two later on.may 27 2017 my oldest sons 40th birthday someone attempted to kill me by firebombing my marina
    To shorten the story because I know from my 25 year effort getting re legalized cannabis policy what with writing and presenting the resolutions in so many party’s myself and being the only one in Canada elected to the green the ndp and the federal liberal party’s executives in one form or another as well as a founding member/candidate of the bc marijuana party and even Safer in Colorado that by and large people just don’t give a rat’s ass any way

    But suffice to say I am now homeless and had the fire capt in attendance tell me to my face that he was burning it to the ground after they snuck in to watch my place and me burn without sirens and would not even turn on the water to stop it nor with me begging for 2 hours even give me a drink of water let alone ask how I was but to hear the delta chief of police himself is on tape with the federal port of vancouver , my landlords for 15 years basically ordering them to become criminal acomplises to his crimes by destroying evidence for him and no one will do a dam thing about it is yes disgusting and obscene and as a disabled military veteran I am disgusted with this fake country called Canada and have to say the facts are the liberals vowed to re legalize cannabis on Jan 11 2012 I believe because I was there making it happen in Ottawa myself
    I then had to spend 9 months explaining that I recorded soon to be prime minister Trudeau with my spy camera admitting his own pot use and for those 9 months I said I would just release it as a YouTube video to help Trudeau find his backbone

    I was rewarded for my efforts doing it in 3 party’s at that point by some one as i say attempting to kill me and again for the second time going from a millionaire from bare handed long legal labour to a homeless pouper simply because of corrupt and criminal police and the ignorance of us doomed species called humans

    I hate their guts and will spend the rest of my days trying to expose what I just told all of you here ….so …its what ? 3 of us now know of it ….i guess …lol
    Cheers and good luck out there
    I wasted 25 years and every cent I ever made but I actually did it ….but i instead really should just have been a pimp of pot like emery and so many others who just lined their pockets and promoted themselves hoping some one would do the actual heavy lifting
    Well I did ….and i now wish I had not cared
    Yep I am and was a fool

    Cheers all

  3. It seems the police always lose their minds when things change. The idea that they have to be trained not to harass cannabis users is beyond laughable. They act like cannabis is something new and no one knows what it will do to have no laws against its use. Utter stupidity. When in doubt, just don’t do anything.

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