The police chief of North Bay, Ontario said legalization isn’t a straight-forward issue and doesn’t support the Liberal government’s commitment to regulate the plant.
“I am concerned about the impact on public safety and health as it relates to decriminalization and legalization of marijuana,” said Paul Cook. “From a community safety perspective, marijuana is a drug that impairs a person’s cognitive function, can cause delusional thoughts, and it certainly would negatively impact the ability to operate machinery or drive a motor vehicle.”
“For the frontline police officer I would say ‘leave the political decision making to the politicians, you just do your job and as your chief of police I’ll continue to support you,'” said Cook. “So for them, their focus is enforcing the law as it currently stands.”
Cook said, instead of legalization, he’d prefer if the government allowed police to issue tickets to people found with under 30 grams of cannabis.
“It would be nice to have legislative changes so an officer can simply issue a ticket to somebody, similar to a red light violation or a liquor infraction, and deal with it that way,” he said.
The North Bay chief said, in his experience, the cannabis industry is rife with issues and always involved with serious criminals.
“We’ve taken down a number of indoor grows in our community and there’s fire hazards in relation to residential growing of marijuana, the issue of theft of electricity, and certainly security risks of individuals who would be targeted for theft if it becomes known they are growing marijuana, and there’s always the element of organized crime in the growing and distributing,” Cook said.
Cook said he’s waiting for the Liberal party’s cannabis legalization point man, MP Bill Blair, to reach out to him for consultation.
“I trust that Bill Blair will be reaching out to organizations such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to get our input on this consultative process,” Cook said. “He understand the importance of consultation with stakeholders and community partners.”