At a recent police services board meeting, Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen said police are still facing a host of unanswered questions as legalization approaches this summer, but they know enforcing rules once pot is legal will cost them more money.
Pedersen said they they learned a few things when Deputy Chief Al Lekun attended a conference last month on issues cities will face when cannabis is legal.
“By 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 150 stores province-wide, which is up from the original 40 in 2018,” Pedersen said in his monthly report to the board.
“Twenty-nine municipalities are currently engaged in store siting processes which are focusing on the guidelines established for retail locations.
“There was also information presented on the illegal selling of cannabis with the OCRC being the exclusive retailer. This will involve both police and bylaw enforcement. Training will be required for officers in standard field sobriety testing and drug recognition expertise.”
Fifty percent of the federal excise taxes will go to municipalities for law enforcement and public health priorities, he said in the report, although how much police will receive is still unclear. New policing costs are expected to include training, equipment, enforcement, overtime, premium pay, and preservation of evidence.
The marijuana legislation is just one of several challenges police are facing without new funding, Pedersen said. For example, police must conform to the R v Jordan, which puts a much tighter timeframe on how quickly an accused must go to trial, or have their case dismissed.
“How much tighter can we pull the belt?” Pedersen said, when it comes to the police’s $57.7 million budget, 85 per cent of which is directed to salaries.