Pubdate: Fri, 23 Feb 2018
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2018 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Arthur White-Crummey
Page: A2


Policing issues played a minor role in Tuesday's Ward 4 budget town
hall, with only one exception: Cannabis enforcement costs.

The Regina Police Service has estimated the cost of policing a
legalized marijuana system between $1.2 million and $1.8 million. That
number evoked shock from one resident who came to the meeting.

"It stretches the bounds of believability," she said. "Give me a

Coun. Andrew Stevens tried to steer clear of the RPS during the town
hall, only once repeating his earlier warnings about the force's
"uncontrolled" costs.

But the woman's statement prompted him to suggest the number might be
exaggerated for political purposes.

"I believe it's inflated," he said. "Here's my guess: Because it's
packaged in a report directed at the provincial government, saying we
need a large share of whatever revenues you are able to accumulate as
a result of legalization, I'd say it's politics."

The estimate first appeared in a report to council earlier this month.
The RPS based it on work done by other police forces, including
Edmonton and York Region, both of which pegged costs at roughly two
per cent of their overall budget.

The same report recommended that the city push for about one third of
the overall revenues from taxing legal weed.

Police say they will have to pay for drug-recognition training and
overtime hours for court testimony, as well as continuing expenses for
overseeing pot shops.

Stevens said it makes no sense for the RPS to regulate a legal
industry, something that's usually left to bureaucrats. He said police
are among the most expensive solutions.

"The provincial government is buffooning the whole situation up, and
the police are now being tasked with being regulators," he said.

Nonetheless, Stevens said any provincial money would be welcome,
especially to help police deal with more pressing drug problems, like
fentanyl and methamphetamine.

"That's a real public health issue that the police are more interested
in," he argued. "Cannabis is a sideshow."
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