Edmonton police chief supports fines for pot possession

Rod Knecht says criminal charges are inefficient way of dealing with problem, but doesn't support decriminalization.
Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht says the resources put towards marijuana charges are better spent on more serious crimes. (CBC)

Edmonton’s police chief says people caught smoking pot should be fined, not criminally charged.

The idea of ticketing users who are found with 30 grams or less of marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by the country’s police chiefs when they met in Winnipeg this week.

Edmonton chief Rod Knecht says in most cases, charging someone for simple possession is an inefficient way of dealing with the problem.

"You engage a prosecutor, you send an exhibit away … typing this form.  A long convoluted process, and I think what we're looking for is more efficiencies in the criminal-justice system," Knecht said.

He said many resources go into proving a case of marijuana possession — money and time he says could be better spent on more serious crimes.

"We send that drug away for analysis, it comes back with a certificate. Now I have to get a police officer to go and serve a certificate on that person to say that it is marijuana," he said.

"The police officer has got to testify. There's lawyers involved there's judges involved."

However, Knecht is adamant that the drug should not be legalized or decriminalized. He also says officers should still have the option of laying a criminal charge if necessary.