Pubdate: Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Page: A10


When police tell them to "slow down," good citizens comply. Not so the
federal government, which is ignoring a very reasonable call from
Canada's police services to slow down on its overly ambitious plan to
legalize recreational marijuana as of next July 1.

The plea from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Ontario
Provincial Police and Saskatoon Police Services was delivered Tuesday
to the House of Commons health committee, which is studying the
federal legislation that will legalize cannabis.

Regrettably, the request was spurned by Public Safety Minister Ralph
Goodale, who claimed the deadline can be easily met. Why the
stubbornness from the federal Liberals? Why the arrogant refusal to
take advice from their partners in this major initiative? This week,
it was the police who said take more time. In July, nine provincial
premiers delivered the same message.

Why are the Liberals turning deaf ears to legitimate and troubling
concerns - not about legalizing recreational marijuana itself but
their insistence it must be rushed through by next July?

It is Canada's front-line police officers who will be expected to
enforce the new law by ensuring road safety, thwarting black market
criminals and keeping marijuana out of children's hands.

But police told the Commons health committee that sticking to the July
1 deadline will make it impossible for them to properly train officers
about the new law. Nor will police have enough time to certify all the
officers needed to conduct roadside testing for cannabis-impaired driving.

The police also fear that, under the current deadline, they will be
unable to properly enforce the government's plan to let individuals
cultivate up to four marijuana plants while ensuring those under the
legal age don't have easy access to a drug the Canadian Medical
Association says damages young, developing brains.

Rick Barnum, the OPP's deputy commissioner for investigations and
organized crime, had this stark warning.

Unless the government postpones the start date, there will be a period
of six months to a year in which police are unprepared and organized
crime will flourish. These are solid arguments. Public Safety Minister
Goodale did the country a disservice when he poured cold water on them.

Goodale and Prime Minister Trudeau were equally dismissive of the nine
premiers who recently requested a delay in the date for legal cannabis.

The premiers worry Ottawa is not giving them enough time to decide on
the best ways to sell, price and tax recreational marijuana.

It's clear the Liberals have been stung for breaking other commitments
- - notably the one promising electoral reform.

But their July 1 deadline for legal cannabis is entirely

They could easily put it back by a full year and still keep their
promise on this matter by the next federal election. With the greatest
respect, we ask the Liberals to do this. The safety of our children,
our roads and our communities rests with them. They should slow down.
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