Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer says his department is in a good position to adapt to new marijuana laws if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau follows through on his promise to legalize the drug.

The city already has a progressive approach to softer drugs, he noted.

"My focus, since I've been chief, and with the prior chief as well, the focus was on more serious drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin and the violence associated to that."

Ultimately, police will follow the new Canadian government's lead, he said.

"I know the Liberals have said they are going to legalize it for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Whatever the law of the land is, the police department will roll with it."

Vancouver pot shop

Vancouver Chief Const. Adam Palmer has said, in the past, that his officers will not crack down on the city's marijuana dispensaries. (CBC)

He also pointed out that police need to be sensitive to what communities want.

"In all the surveys that we've seen in recent years, the vast majority of people support some sort of legalization or regulation on marijuana -- decriminalization -- however that may look," said Palmer.

Community input

The Vancouver Police Department is in the middle of creating a five year operational plan, and Palmer said he is looking for public input on a wide range of issues, beyond drugs — everything from barking dogs to homicide rates.

"Whatever the law of the land is, the police department will roll with it." - chief Constable Adam Palmer, Vancouver Police Department

Palmer says police will need to be careful balancing what residents say with what their own officers and research indicate, however. Vancouver police will be looking at best practices, literature reviews, and examples from other agencies as it plans for the next five years.

"There will be some things that are irksome to the general public and things they don't want to see in their general neighbourhood, but we will have to balance that against the totality of everything we do as a police agency."
People can give their two cents on policing priorities by filling out the VPD's Strategic Plan Survey.

To listen to the full audio, click on the link labelled: VPD chief Adam Palmer talks about marijuana, cyclist-punching cop, and strategic plan survey