Turns out legal pot is not as big of an issue as Regina police first thought, says chief

Cannabis was one of the topics on the agenda when Regina's police chief sat down recently with CBC for a wide ranging year-end interview.

Maybe better to be over prepared than under prepared, says Evan Bray

Regina's police chief says the legalization of cannabis has gone smoother than some people expected. (Gosia Wozniacka/The Associated Press)

Regina's chief of police says the legalization of recreational cannabis turned out to be not as big a deal as first anticipated.

"We were getting caught up in a lot of discussion on a national and local level about, you know, 'Is the sky going to fall?'" Evan Bray said during a year-end interview with CBC.

"I feel like that day came and passed and while we were ready, we didn't see a huge significant change."

Bray previously expressed concerns about the potential negative consequences that legalization could bring, such as social issues, increased police budgets and bigger workloads for officers.

A civic report released prior to legalization pegged the cost at more than $1 million a year for enforcement, education, equipment and training.

Regina police were one of the Canadian law enforcement agencies that did not report an uptick in drug impaired driving incidents in the month following pot becoming legal.

Police did, however, notice more people lighting up in public, with Bray saying he encouraged officers to take an educational approach, at least at first.

Although no money was inked into the budget, Bray said some cash was set aside for training. Still, he said the force dedicated a lot of time in the lead up to October 17 to get ready for legal pot. 

"I think about the amount of time and effort and energy we spent and maybe better to be over prepared than not prepared, but it really ended up being not as big of an issue as I think a lot of people were worried it was going to be," said Bray. 

"Including us. We weren't sure what that was going to look like."

He said things could change in the years to come as more pot retailers open their doors in Regina. 

-With files from The Canadian Press

About the Author

Stephanie Taylor

Reporter, CBC Saskatchewan

Stephanie Taylor is a reporter based in Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC News in Regina, she covered municipal politics in her hometown of Winnipeg and in Halifax. Reach her at stephanie.taylor@cbc.ca

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