New Brunswick

Are police ready for pot legalization? The Codiac RCMP says yes

With just over a month to go until recreational cannabis becomes legal, the Superintendent of the Codiac Regional RCMP says the force is in good shape when it comes to enforcement.

The police force continues to train officers to become drug recognition experts

Codiac RCMP Supt. Tom Critchlow says the force continues to train drug recognition experts as the date for legalization of recreational cannabis looms. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

Officers with the Codiac Regional RCMP are in "good shape" for the upcoming legalization of marijuana, the force's superintendent says.  

At Thursday's Codiac Regional Policing Authority meeting, Supt. Tom Critchlow said he's focused on training staff to detect drivers impaired by marijuana.

The goal is to have more drug recognition experts trained on staff, Critchlow said. As a result, some officers spent a week in Jacksonville, Florida for special training.

"We have five that are trained," he said.

"We're looking to train some more, we have training coming up this fall and developing that along with new equipment."

The RCMP's Southeast District, who service the outer region of the city, also have a number of trained staff.

Cannabis will become legal come Oct. 17 of this year. 

Keeping impaired drivers off the road

Late last month, the federal Liberals approved the first saliva test screening roadside device for marijuana.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould approved the Drager Drug Test 5000 as the first saliva screening equipment to be used by law enforcement to test for THC, the main psychoactive agent in cannabis.

The equipment will be made available to police forces across the country, but government says it will be up to police forces to decide what testing equipment they want to use.

The superintendent isn't sure at this point if that new equipment will include a road side screening device in the Moncton area.

'We're ready'

Critchlow said it's still too early to tell what will happen in New Brunswick.

"We will work with our management team at headquarters along with the national police force because I believe there's only so many going to be available across the country," he said.

"We have to work with our partners at public safety for the province and decide what they'll be authorizing." 

The legalization of recreational marijuana is scheduled to take place on Oct. 17. (CBC)

Regardless of the method of detection, Critchlow said the goal is to keep impaired drivers off the road.

"At the end of the day this is one of our goals, [it's] to have safe roads and we all have families. " Critchlow said.

"We don't want to be hit by somebody that's impaired regardless if it's alcohol or drugs."

The cost of training and overtime are also factors that have to be considered, he said.  

But ultimately, he said the force is ready for the legalization of cannabis.

"I feel comfortable at this level, obviously it would always be nice to have more but we're ready," he said.