Pubdate: Thu, 01 Mar 2018
Source: Brighton Independent (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: John Campbell


Brighton - People consume marijuana because it relaxes them but the
prospect of its recreational use becoming legal is making police anxious.

"Anticipated issues" include "easier access for the youth population,"
impaired operation of vehicles, and the "facilitation of trafficking,"
OPP Detective-Sergeant Rick Dupuis said in a presentation to Brighton
council on the implications of the federal law that is to take effect
sometime after July 1.

"The provincial and federal governments indicate that this act was
introduced to minimize or mitigate accessibility to our young
population but in my professional opinion I believe that is ...
counterintuitive," he told council Feb. 20. "It's going to make it
much easier."

Dupuis, a member of the Community Street Crime Unit in the OPP's
Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, gave as an example a young person
finding marijuana that parents legally possess in the home.

"What prevents a young individual accessing that marijuana and
bringing it to the school, whether it's an elementary school or a high
school?" he asked. "I'm not saying it's going to be an epidemic by any
stretch but these are issues we perceive moving forward."

Impaired operation is "one of the main concerns" police have, Dupuis
said. "We don't have everything in place right now to deal with that

Front-line officers "have to take specific and designated training to
be able to identify" when a person is impaired by drug use. The
training to become a drug recognition expert is done outside the province.

The OPP is "severely depleted in terms of experts to deal with that,"
he said, and with legalization set to take effect this summer "that
will tax the policing world."

Dupuis said trafficking is already an issue with marijuana being grown
for medicinal purposes.

"There's a lot of criminal elements out there that hide under the
guise of the legitimate medical certificate that allows them to
possess and consume marijuana for medicinal purposes," he said.
"Sometimes these individuals have fooled the medical field or have
expanded on their possession of these controlled substances."

Dupuis said "a major concern" has emerged in Colorado where
recreational marijuana was legalized: its use in housing complexes,
townhouses and highrise apartment buildings.

The distinct scent "moves throughout the corridors" and between
floors, "and that affects the well-being" of neighbours and their
enjoyment of their dwelling places, Dupuis said.

It's an issue "they hadn't foreseen (and it's become) problematic" but
police can do nothing.

The scent is "10 times stronger than cigarettes if not stronger" and
'"it will linger for hours if not days."

Mayor Mark Walas thanked Dupuis for his presentation, which Brighton's
police services board had recommended he give.

"It appears as though there are still a number of challenges that face
both communities and law enforcement" arising from Bill C-45, he said.

Councillor Steve Baker noted Brighton is being approached by companies
wanting to establish facilities for growing and processing marijuana
and he asked if the OPP would engage in "periodic inspections ... to
ensure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing."

Dupuis said police have no authority to inspect. That is regulated by
Health Canada which he understands has "a very select few" inspectors,
and "enforcement is very limited."

In the 12 years he spent in drug enforcement, he often encountered
licensed growers who exceeded the number of plants they were permitted
to grow for medicinal purposes. The licence might be for 50 plants and
it is "not uncommon for us to investigate a matter where they will
have 500 plants."

However, "most commonly their licence was not revoked" when police
notified Health Canada of the violation.

Councillor John Martinello asked if the municipality could raise the
legal age for consumption of marijuana to 21 from 19 that the province
has set.

There is that option "in consultation with the provincial government,"
Dupuis replied. "Municipalities will have a say."

He added that in the discussions leading up to the law being passed
"most people thought that 21 or 25 should be" the threshold based on
scientific research into the effects of marijuana on the development
of the human brain.

The thinking is that using marijuana at age 18 or 19 "could
potentially pose medical issues for that individual down the road."

Deputy Mayor Roger McMurray wanted to know what impact the new law
will have on police resources.

"I'm going to anticipate our workload or calls for service will
increase dramatically," Dupuis answered, but "most of it" will have to
do with complaints by people about neighbours growing more than
they're allowed.

He said landlord and condominium boards will be able to regulate
marijuana use within their buildings for the benefit of all residents.
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