Article by Maria Jose Burgos, CBC News
Chief Leanne Fitch predicts higher costs for the Fredericton Police Force when marijuana is no longer against the law — at least in the beginning.
Most of the higher costs will be related to impaired drivers and regulatory enforcement, Fitch told a committee of MLAs studying how to regulate sales of the drug.
“It will absolutely have a bearing on budget,” she said. “Everything from training costs, the acquisition of technical equipment — these added responsibilities will create more staffing demands.”
Many police officers will have to step away from their jobs for extended periods to get training in how recognize when someone is using the drug, Fitch said.
Need special training
Training to become a drug recognition expert takes up to three weeks, and absent officers will have to be backfilled, she said.
Although she was asked, Fitch’s remarks did not include what the department spends now on enforcement, when marijuana is illegal, and she said it would be a “shot in the dark” if she were to estimate how much more it will have to spend on the startup costs of legalization.
Some supporters of legalization, including former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, who is now a Liberal MP, have said the change will free up police forces from prosecuting low-level possession cases and allow them to devote resources to more dangerous drugs.
But Fitch said drug enforcement is just one cost associated with the legalization of marijuana.