Pubdate: Mon, 09 Nov 2015
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Chatham Daily News
Author: Ellwood Shreve
Page: A1


Imposing fines a suggested alternative to deal with simple marijuana

Justin Trudeau's recent federal election victory to become Prime
Minister has many believing this will open the door to Canada
legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

On record for supporting the legalization of marijuana, Trudeau has
the ability to make it happen now that he leads a majority government
in Ottawa.

However, Chatham-Kent Police Service Chief Gary Conn has some concerns
about the impact this could have.

Noting he understands and appreciates there is difference between
medical marijuana use versus recreational use, Conn said, "from a
policing perspective, my primary concern is public safety.

"Anything that is going to diminish or lessen that public safety,
naturally we would not support," he added.

A major area of concern for police is people driving while

If laws are changed that enables pot use to become more prevalent, the
chief believes "the chances are greater that we are going to see an
increase of impaired driving associated to the consumption of
marijuana use."

If that happens, he said it would become one of those factors that
diminishes public safety.

However, the local police service has drug recognition officers along
with several officers who are "trained standard field sobriety
testers" that are available to make a determination if someone is
suspected of operating a vehicle while impaired by narcotic, Conn said.

Another major issue is the burden placed on the judicial system in
regards to simple possession of marijuana under the Controlled Drugs
and Substance Act.

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau, who has supported the idea of
legalizing marijuana, recently told The Ottawa Sun it costs the system
too much money to send people to court for simple possession.

He believes legalization will reduce the burden on the courts and
allow police to divert enforcement resources to other worthwhile endeavours.

Conn said the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has suggested
developing a ticketing scheme to deal with simple possession, which
under the law is having less than 30 grams of marijuana.

"The argument has been a large majority of the simple possession cases
could be more efficiently dealt with using . . . a ticketing scheme as
opposed to a criminal charge," the chief said.

He added a fine for simple possession could act as both the penalty
and deterrent.

But, Conn expects a lot more discussion will take place before any
action is taken on whether or not to legalize marijuana.

He said there are numerous variables that have to be taken into
consideration with respect to this issue that will need to be
discussed at both the government and judiciary levels.

"This is not something that's going to happen overnight," Conn said.
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