Pubdate: Wed, 01 Nov 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Bill Cleverley
Page: A4


Legalizing marijuana will dramatically increase the workload for
police forces across the country, says Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.

"The Cannabis Act will legalize cannabis, and I can assure you that
the work for the police department and every police agency across this
country is going to exponentially increase," Manak told city
councillors during a budget workshop on Tuesday.

Efforts to keep drugs out of the hands of organized crime and youth
and to deal with drivers who are impaired by cannabis "will not happen
overnight," Manak said.

"There will have to be training. There will have to be enforcement.
There will have to be a strategy and a plan that's put in place and I
can assure you that it will be the police at the front end of it that
will bear this burden," he said.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday thought Manak's comments to be counterintuitive
and that legalization should bring about the need for less
enforcement, not more. Manak disagreed. "We know that organized crime
has been involved in cannabis and in trafficking for years. There are
billions of dollars that they are making," Manak said.

"They will not be walking away just because it's legalized. They will
try to find the black market. They will try to find a price point.
They don't have to pay taxes."

Eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized
recreational use of marijuana. Those states that have legalized pot
are finding that after legalization there is a greater need for
additional cannabis enforcement teams working to keep it out of the
hands of youth, he said.

New regulations likely will specify a small number of plants that
people can grow in their homes. Police will undoubtedly encounter grow
operations far larger than what will be allowed, Manak said.

Improved and enhanced education campaigns will have to be developed
for youths in schools, he said.

"It's easy to say that we're going to create these laws and we're
going to create a framework that's going to keep it out of the hands
of youth. But who is doing that?" Manak said.

"We are going to see a significant impact that is going to fall to the
hands of police to keep the community safe."

The federal government introduced legislation in April that would
legalize recreational marijuana by July 1, 2018, but is leaving it up
to each province to determine its own distribution system and usage
regulations. Provinces will also be able to upgrade traffic safety
laws related to cannabis-impaired driving.

The proposed cannabis act stipulates that any promotion, packaging or
labeling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons or
encourages consumption would be prohibited.

The federal government is planning extensive general population and
youth-focused public education campaigns.

It is also aiming to spend $161 million over the next five years to
help train and equip police to administer roadside saliva tests to
check for drug-impaired driving.

Loveday said he hoped police forces won't have to assume
responsibility for the likes of education campaigns.

"The police don't have a tobacco unit or an alcohol unit that's trying
to just keep those substances out of the hands of young people,"
Loveday said. "I'm really hopeful that this won't increase costs."
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