Pubdate: Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Source: Recorder & Times, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Recorder and Times
Author: Sue Bailey
Page: A5



ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Canada's public safety minister says the federal
government is anxious to legalize marijuana by next summer despite
police services saying there's zero chance they'll be ready.

Ralph Goodale said Wednesday the Liberals just announced $274 million
over the next five years to help with police training and fight the
involvement of organized crime.

On Tuesday, police from Ontario, Saskatoon and the Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police told the Commons health committee that
they need more time. They say they require an extra six months to a
year for proper police training and public education - without which
organized crime will flourish.

Goodale said Wednesday the government will listen to that feedback but
has set out a timetable that he says is reasonable. The Liberals have
pledged pot will be legal in Canada by the summer of 2018.

"This is a large transformative initiative. When you bring forward
that kind of measure obviously it challenges people to meet the
objectives but the time frame is a solid one. The deadline is 10
months away or 11 months away. There's time there to move forward," he
said as he headed into the final meeting of a two-day federal cabinet
retreat in St. John's, N.L.

"Look, we've set the objective in July of next year and we're anxious
to achieve that objective."

The police officials told the committee they need more time to
properly train officers about the new laws and more than double the
number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug
impaired driving testing. There also needs to be more time for public
education, the police said.

Rick Barnum, the OPP's deputy commissioner for investigations and
organized crime, said the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
officially wrote to the government this week to request a delay.

"If legislation is ready to go July 2018, policing will not be ready
to go August 1," Barnum told the committee, which is meeting this week
to study the federal marijuana legislation. "It's impossible. The
time, the damage that can be done between the time of new legislation
and police officers ready to enforce the law in six months or a year
can make it very, very hard to ever regain that foothold."

The police also want Ottawa to reconsider allowing individuals to grow
up to four of their own marijuana plants because it will be difficult
and expensive to enforce and provide an additional way for young
people to get access to pot.

"Obviously we will take all of the testimony that will be offered to
the parliamentary committee into consideration. That's what the
hearings are for," Goodale said Wednesday. "We'll listen very
carefully to what all of the expert advice has to say. But the
government has put some very substantial resources on the table to
make sure the goals can be reached."

While legalization of recreational pot will lighten officers' workload
there were 16,000 charges laid for simple possession in 2016 - police
said it brings a whole host of other problems, including an expected
rise in complaints about neighbours owning pot plants, suspected
grow-ops, and robberies and home invasions. The police request for a
delay comes after Canada's premiers warned the federal government in
June that they may not be ready with provincial laws and regulations
to accompany the federal bill by next summer.
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