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After many years of marijuana being smoked in secrecy or eliciting arrests when smoked publicly, Canada is considering legalizing its usage. Amidst the numerous onlookers to the House of Commons health committee studying the government’s bill to permit marijuana were the Saskatoon Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Ontario Provincial Police. With such a big change being made, time is necessary for police to be trained in the new laws pertaining to legalized marijuana use as well as a need for the public’s education on the matter.

In the past, marijuana use has been a big problem leading to many arrests. As a result, the legalization may have a silver lining for the police – fewer confrontations with marijuana smokers means more time spent patrolling for larger threats.

The police would like Ottawa to allow citizens to grow at most four marijuana plants of their own, but the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police appealed to the government to request a delay. The police’s attempt to restrain marijuana legalization comes from the fear that regular usage may bring an increase in the number of home invasions and robberies as well as complaints from citizens about their neighbors having too much growth.

The legal age for marijuana use in Canada would be eighteen, but provinces do possess the ability to make that age higher. Determinations also must be set as to where marijuana will legally be sold. Last week, the Ontario government announced a possibility of 150 marijuana stores being opened in the province, these would be managed by an online pot depot option and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

As mentioned earlier, police have said that they need more money and more time in order to ensure officers are properly trained in how to recognize and then handle a driver who has used marijuana. It can take more than a week to fully train an officer when using the International Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, which right now is strictly available in the US; much more time would be required in Canada where we are without the program.

In a national estimate, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police believes the necessity of at least 2,000 fully trained officers, adding to the current number of about 600, to be ready to keep order in a relatively new environment with legalized marijuana.

The Deputy Chief of the Abbotsford Police Department as well as co-chair of the association’s drug advisory committee, Mike Serr, says that, “We need a made-for-Canadian policing solution to this and we need to bring that training here if we’re going to train them as quickly as possible”.

As a result, the decision is currently in limbo while these concerns are reviewed. In the mean time marijuana use remains illegal. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, contact Julian van der Walle today to learn about your options.

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