Cannabis is 'business as usual' for Regina police one year after legalization

A report by the Board of Police Commissioners said there hasn't been a large increase in youth using cannabis or people driving under the influence of the drug.

Board of Police Commissioners report says no large increase in youth usage

Cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. (CBC)

One year after the legalization of cannabis, the Regina Police Service has not seen an increased amount of cannabis impaired driving, notable increases in youth using, or an increase in people using at work. 

At the Board of Police Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, the police service said that in many aspects it has been "business as usual" as the illegal production, distribution and use of the drug were not new. 

The report said while cannabis is important to the service, it does not have the same "pressing public safety concerns" as cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl. 

To prepare for cannabis legalization, 390 officers were trained to conduct a standard field sobriety test and 14 were certified as drug recognition experts. The service will continue to train officers in the future, the report said. 

Driving under the influence of alcohol is still the most common impaired driving charge. However, when both alcohol and drug impairment are suspected, police focus on the alcohol. This means that drug impairment rates can be under-reported, the police report said. 

When someone is charged with drug-impaired driving, it takes more time to use screening devices and go through the court. As well, Canadian testing labs are backlogged, making the court process longer.

No notable increase in youth using, charged

Calls to police about youth using cannabis have gone down around 19 per cent, the police report said. The report said police have also not seen a notable increase in the number of youth being charged with possession of "excessive amounts" of the drug. 

In the past year, six people charged with cannabis offences were under 18. 

Twenty-two people over 18 were charged with various offences including: possessing cannabis to sell, selling illegal cannabis, minors possessing and/or using cannabis, possessing more than 30 grams in a public place. 

Police concerned over recent legalization of edibles

Earlier this month, new regulations meant edibles, extracts and topicals became legal. 

The Regina Police Service is concerned about drivers consuming edibles as there can be a delay of 20 to 60 minutes before it can be detected. That means they can be sober when they begin driving and become impaired en route to their destination. 

"How cannabis is consumed matters," the report said. 

Cannabis edibles, CBD infused gummies, and other products were legalized in Canada on October 17, 2019. (Shutterstock/Victor Moussa)

The report said there's also an increased risk for overdoses as there's no set standard for the allowable volume of THC in an edible and that youth may be more at risk because there isn't an apparent distinction between brownies and gummy bears that do contain THC. 

Police say they expect edibles to take up more of the legal market because they are easier for people to buy and use in public.