Pubdate: Sat, 17 Feb 2018
Source: Standard Freeholder (Cornwall, CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Author: Alan S. Hale
Page: A1


Dealing with the impact of marijuana legalization is expected to be
one of the year's biggest challenges for the Cornwall Community Police
Service, according to Chief-designate Danny Aikman.

"Obviously there is a lot of attention being paid the legalization of
marijuana and the impact that will have on municipalities as well as
police forces," he said.

The Cornwall police are concerned their costs could increase because
of the change in the law, and Aikman said just because possession will
be legal, doesn't mean enforcement efforts can be stopped.

There are two main issues at play when it comes what the Cornwall
police will do after recreational cannabis becomes legal. The first is
that it would still be illegal for anyone to sell marijuana outside of
stores run by the provincial government. Second, Cornwall is not one
of the communities that is getting one of those stores right away.

"One can very easily imagine that someone else will try to fill that
void," he said. "We will have to continue with our efforts on
impacting the sale of illegal cannabis. Organized crime is not just
going to stand down from the distribution of what are now illegal drugs."

Something not brought up during the budget steering committee where
Aik man was making his presentation, was the Mo hawk Council of
Akwesasne's current consideration whether its community would open a
legal dispensary.

Nonetheless, a big part of the police force's planning process ahead
of legalization is how to keep the pressure on illegal sellers.

Another concern for the Cornwall police is impaired driving caused by
people smoking otherwise legal pot. There continues to be no
impairment test for marijuana that is as reliable and easy to use as a
breathalyzer is for alcohol impairment. The best Cornwall police can
do right now is get its traffic officers trained as drug impairment
recognition experts - the techniques of which are admissible in court.

"We only have three of those experts and the training program for them
is quite extensive and quite expensive," said Aikman. "There is no
simple, easy test for THC."

Coun. Bernadette Clement wanted to know if the police are planning to
do any public messaging about what their role will be after
legalization. Aikman said they had no money in their budget set aside
specifically for that, but they are hoping to come up with some kind
of effective communication plan. But even the police service isn't
quite sure what is going to happen, or how much it will cost to adjust

"The lack of information coming from the province and and the federal
government with regards to how this will all play out is frustrating,"
said the chief-designate. "I've read many media articles from other
chiefs of police who are predicting massive new costs to implement
this particular piece of legislation. I have a grasp about what it is
going to cost us because I don't know what it is we are

That said, once more concrete information does make its way out of
Ottawa or Queen's Park, the plan is to work with city administration
to come up with a strategy. In the meantime, the Cornwall police are
sending some of their officers to a conference on the subject in May.

"The legislation is tentatively is coming into effect in July, so
we're not going to have a lot of time to come up with a strategy,"
said Aikman. "I could see this becoming a 2019 initiative where we are
playing catch-up."
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