He knows it’s a pipe dream, but if Saskatoon’s police chief had his way cannabis legalization would be pushed back.
Troy Cooper spoke with media Thursday, addressing the short – and for now, unknown – timeline leading up the new federal law.
“We’re assuming it’s a summer roll out. We’ll be prepared and ready for summer. But any extension on that would be beneficial for us for additional training,” Cooper explained.
A day earlier, Saskatchewan was the last province to release its framework for handling the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“There’s nothing that surprising that we weren’t expecting to see,” Cooper said. “The new information, of course, is the legal age of consumption.”
Cooper said he was happy to see the age set at 19, as police chiefs were consulted on the minimum legal limit.
“We knew that it was unlikely that anything older than 19 would be supported,” he said.
“To go any younger than 19 would probably start to erode the principle the act was based on, and that was to protect youth.”
Cooper noted since the age is consistent with alcohol consumption in the province, it’ll be easier for officer training and on policies already in place.
But the police chief added there are still a lot of outstanding questions regarding enforcement, particularly when it comes to impaired driving.
“What that looks like and what resources that requires, we’re still not sure,” he said, adding the service can’t move ahead with the extra training right now.
“When the new federal legislation comes in, there’s additional requirements for training around testing and testing equipment – we don’t have that equipment yet.”
In the meantime, he said the community will be safeguarded by current legislation on impaired driving and vehicle seizures.
As for the cost of training, Cooper noted there are still a lot of unknowns as staffing levels will be affected during the development time and members may be brought in as backfill.
The police chief also pointed out rates of other offences, such as impaired driving, will likely go up once the law takes hold, based on data from other communities where the drug is legal.
Driving your cannabis home
One thing Cooper said he’s not worried about is the Saskatchewan provision requiring people to take their cannabis straight home once purchased.
On Wednesday, New Democrat MP Nicole Sarauer took issue with this, saying it would be hard to enforce.
“That’s not new to us. We’ve had the exact same requirement under the alcohol requirements,” he said.
“I don’t think that will be much of an issue for police as far as this legislation being rolled out.”
In Saskatchewan, drivers are allowed to take sealed, unopened liquor home anywhere in the vehicle – although Cooper noted the trunk is a good spot.
He said the same will go with cannabis; with the goal being to curb drivers from partaking behind the wheel.