Earlier this year, the Canadian government introduced recreational marijuana legislation, setting the wheels in motion for legalization to take effect in July 2018. Officials have taken a cautious and meticulous approach to constructing regulations for the system, recently issuing safety guidelines to prevent adverse health risks that could stem from cannabis use.
But despite these preliminary precautions, Canada’s police force believes that they are not prepared to enforce legal pot laws next summer. This week, representatives from law enforcement services across the country appeared before the House of Commons health committee, the council responsible for analyzing the government's recreational bill.
The police officials asked the government to reconsider home cultivation, claiming that the law would be too difficult to enforce and would make cannabis more accessible for adolescents. The request was made by representatives from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Saskatoon Police Service.
"We are asking that the government consider giving us more time to have all the legislation fully in place which will allow us to properly train, prepare for implementation on Day 1," said Mike Serr, co-chair of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police drug advisory committee.
According to OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum, allowing legalization to start next summer would create a six-month window for crime to flourish, and lead to a rough start for the newly legal market. During a committee hearing yesterday, the Liberal government seemed to follow this line of thinking, expressing concerns that the black market would continue to operate even once legal pot is available to the masses.
The senior police officials also stated that they need more time to properly train officers to recognize and deal with visually impaired drivers. As the council continues to study Bill C-45 (also known as the Cannabis Act), the apparent reluctance from both police and parliament could create potential delays in the implementation of recreational marijuana. The House of Commons health committee will continue to hold meetings throughout the week, including a discussion about the impact that legalization has had on Washington and Colorado.