Sudbury Police waiting on province, feds for marching orders ahead of pot legalization
Police chief Paul Pedersen says new training, equipment could call for 2 percent hike in police budget
With the national legalization of cannabis on the horizon, Greater Sudbury's police chief says his force and others across the country still have a long way to go when it comes to being ready for the new laws — whenever they come into effect.
Paul Pedersen said the province has announced $40 million in funding over two years for Ontario-wide policing costs related to the legalization of cannabis. But he says details of how and where that money will be dispersed remain unknown.
Pedersen revisited this issue again in his monthly report at Wednesday night's Greater Sudbury Police Services (GSPS) board meeting.
"We're seeing that at least this province is pretty far ahead of some provinces in respect to where the retail stores are going to be, the name of the retail stores, some of the legislation around it," said Pedersen.
He added, however, that "some pretty significant open questions" remain, especially when it comes to policing.
"What's the training going to look like? [There are questions] about equipment being able to detect the presence of cannabis, potentially in saliva, or the authority to detect the presence of cannabis or other drugs in blood," said Pedersen.
The federal government hasn't yet set a firm date for legalization, and the province hasn't yet established when it's pot stores will be open to the public. They both say it will be sometime in 2018.
Laws in place still enforced
Asked whether GSPS is still arresting people for cannabis possession, Pedersen replied that it remains against the law.
"The laws that are in place will still be enforced as they always have been," he said.
"The legislation is pretty clear about what's going to become legal and what's going to become illegal, and yeah, we have to give specific training on the nuances and the changes to legislation."
Pedersen was clear he wouldn't entertain a moral discussion about legalization.
"You're asking a chief of police a question that's impossible for me to answer," said Pedersen.
"It's not the position of the police to determine whether or not marijuana, cannabis, any of this should or shouldn't be legal. Federal government has a mandate to legalize it, and it's our business to enforce the law that comes from that."