New Brunswick

Codiac Regional RCMP prepares for cannabis legalization

The Supt. of the Codiac RCMP in Greater Moncton says the force is preparing for the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17. Tom Critchlow updated members of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority at a meeting Thursday. He says there are eight trained drug recognition experts in the area that can be called upon.

Supt. updates Codiac Regional Policing Authority on progress as legalization looms

Supt. Tom Critchlow said the Codiac RCMP is preparing for the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17. He said drug recognition experts will be ready to detect people driving under the influence of drugs. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

The Supt. of the Codiac RCMP in Greater Moncton said the force is preparing for the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17.

Tom Critchlow updated members of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority at a meeting Thursday. He said there are eight trained drug recognition experts in the area that can be called upon.

Critchlow says there are now six trained drug recognition experts at Codiac, and two more in the area that can be called upon. Officers will spend a week in Jacksonville, Florida being trained.

Identifying people under the influence

But Critchlow says determining that someone is driving under the influence of drugs is "subjective."

"Obviously you don't have like we do with an alcometer that someone can blow into the device and provide a sample which says pass or fail and then we can bring you in to have an accurate level of blood alcohol concentration in that case," Critchlow said.

We'll continue to do that to ensure that the general public is safe.- Tom Critchlow, Supt. of the Codiac RCMP

Critchlow said officers will have to look at things like physical behaviour and psychological indicators that people on drugs display.

"At the roadside, if the police officer determines that that person's ability is impaired by a drug in this case, then we would contact one of our drug recognition experts and bring them in to do a more intense testing process. And at that stage if the expert believes that yes, they are impaired by a drug, then they would be charged under the criminal code provisions," Critchlow said.

There are concerns that the cannabis that topical creams contain could have traces of pesticides, fungus or contaminants, according to Dr. Lydia Hatcher, a physician and associate clinical professor at McMaster University. Government regulation would ensure that topicals are clear of contaminants. (CBC)

The Superintendent says taking these cases to court will present some challenges.

"It's going to be an area where I would probably say that a lot of the cases will be challenged because it comes down to the experience and the subjectivity of the observations," Critchlow said.

"There's a lot of grey in that area, but there are cases where you know they've been successful, and at the end of the day our responsibility to our citizens and our communities is to remove people — dangerous people from the road who have various levels or types of impairment," he said.

"We'll continue to do that to ensure that the general public is safe."

Roadside screening device 

Critchlow says a roadside screening device is still "a way down the road."

As for how much all of this will cost, Critchlow told the Codiac Regional Policing Authority things like the cost of training and overtime will have to be considered.

He said the force is working on a multi-year financial plan that will be presented to all three municipalities in September. 

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