Canadian law enforcement isn’t prepared for marijuana to become legal next summer, according to police officials, but the nation’s public safety minister says authorities still have plenty of time before shops start selling retail weed July 1.
Officials from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Ontario Provincial Police and the Saskatoon Police Service testified before the Commons health committee Tuesday and insisted they won’t be ready to enforce new marijuana laws by the time the plant is likely legalized next summer.
“If legislation is ready to go July 2018, policing will not be ready to go August 1,” said Rick Barnum, the OPP’s deputy commissioner for investigations and organized crime, CBC reported. “It’s impossible. The time, the damage that can be done between the time of new legislation and police officers ready to enforce the law in six months or a year can make it very, very hard to ever regain that foothold.”
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police sent a formal request to the federal government this week seeking a delay but have already been rebuked by members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, including Ralph Goodale, the nation’s current minister of public safety.
“We believe that the timeframe we’ve set out is reasonable. We’ve put new money on the table to help achieve the objectives and the mood among all of those that need to work on this is a constructive mood,” Mr. Goodale told reporters Wednesday.
Liberals plan to allocate $274 million, or about $225 million USD, toward police training over the next five years, Mr. Goodale added, The Toronto Star reported.
“Look, we’ve set the objective in July of next year and we’re anxious to achieve that objective,” Mr. Goodale said.
Mr. Trudeau pledged to legalize recreational marijuana while running for office, and his party has said it planned to create a framework for retail sales to begin next summer. With less than a year to go, however, only one of Canada’s 10 provinces, Ontario, has finalized its own rules for regulating pot.
Canada is slated to become the second country to legalize marijuana nationwide after Uruguay. Recreational marijuana is currently legal in nine states in the U.S., including two that share borders with Canada: Maine and Washington.
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