With the passage of the Federal Government's proposed marijuana legalization, it appears buying and smoking the drug will become legal in October, which opens a whole new can of worms for the people sworn to uphold the law.
"There's going to be federal legislation, there's going to be new laws passed by the province and there's probably going to be some municipal bylaws, so we're going to have three levels of enforcement that we're looking at," explained Staff Sergeant Kevin Charles of the Drumheller RCMP. "There's a lot of work being done in the background, especially for retail and transportation and storage and background checks and licensing."
While police forces across the country are wondering exactly what laws they will be enforcing, Staff Sergeant Charles admits they're gearing up to enforce laws against driving high.
"That's probably our biggest concern is smoking marijuana and then getting behind the wheel of a vehicle," he confessed. "We really have to get the information across to the public that it's no different from drinking and driving; if you're driving while high, that is still impaired driving, you face the same consequences and you're still the same danger on the road."
"There's actually some specialized training for officers -- it's the Standardized Field Sobriety Test -- and that's one of the things the officers are being trained on is to determine what level people are impaired," he elaborated. "There's going to be different strengths of THC in the cannabis, dependent on how much they've smoked and how long it's been since they've smoked before they get behind the wheel of a vehicle."
The legislation, an electoral promise of the Liberal Party, allows adults in Canada to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. It sets out parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution and sale of the drug. It also creates new Criminal Code offences for selling marijuana to minors.