Online tools to help police prepare for legal cannabis

The legalization of cannabis will require police officers to adjust their thinking, and the Canadian Police Knowledge Network is helping with the transition.

'They're going to have to look at this substance differently'

CPKN president Sandy Sweet looks over the development of the cannabis training modules with Chris MacEachern, left, and Evan Jackson. (Sidney Reid/Holland College)

The legalization of cannabis will require police officers to adjust their thinking, and the Canadian Police Knowledge Network is helping with the transition.

The Charlottetown-based group is creating some online tools to help train front-line officers in dealing with the legal change.

CPKN president Sandy Sweet said old habits will take time to change.

"There's some critical thinking aspects of policing that. Police officers are trained and they cultivate these habits during their career. They're going to have to look at this substance differently," said Sweet.

The network is a partnership between Holland College and the Canadian police community. It has been working with the RCMP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to develop courses.

'New way of thinking'

Sweet said the online portal will feature a 90-minute course to guide officers through the new possession and distribution rules.

It includes other courses on drug-impaired driving and how to detect it.

"The challenge is about the new way of thinking, that this is a legal substance, where heretofore it wasn't," Sweet said.

The policing network is gathering information from experts across the country.

The portal will be different for each province and territory to take into account differences in the law from one jurisdiction to the next, Sweet said.

The courses continue to be tinkered with as the cannabis law makes its way through the legalization process, which should conclude in late summer or early fall.

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