Ottawa ‘Anxious’ To Meet 2018 Deadline For Marijuana Legalization: Goodale

Article by Sue Bailey, CTV News

Ottawa 'anxious' to meet 2018 deadline for marijuana legalization: Goodale. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale talks with reporters before the morning session as the Liberal cabinet meets in St. John's, N.L. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Canada’s public safety minister says the federal government is anxious to legalize marijuana by next summer despite police services saying there’s zero chance they’ll be ready.

Ralph Goodale said Wednesday the Liberals just announced $274 million over the next five years to help with police training and fight the involvement of organized crime.

On Tuesday, police from Ontario, Saskatoon and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police told the Commons health committee that they need more time. They say they require an extra six months to a year for proper police training and public education — without which organized crime will flourish.

Goodale said Wednesday the government will listen to that feedback but has set out a timetable that he says is reasonable. The Liberals have pledged pot will be legal in Canada by the summer of 2018.

“This is a large transformative initiative. When you bring forward that kind of measure obviously it challenges people to meet the objectives but the timeframe is a solid one. The deadline is 10 months away or 11 months away. There’s time there to move forward,” he said as he headed into the final meeting of a two-day federal cabinet retreat in St. John’s, N.L.

“Look, we’ve set the objective in July of next year and we’re anxious to achieve that objective.”

The police officials told the committee they need more time to properly train officers about the new laws and more than double the number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug impaired driving testing. There also needs to be more time for public education, the police said.

Rick Barnum, the OPP’s deputy commissioner for investigations and organized crime, said the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police officially wrote to the government this week to request a delay.

“If legislation is ready to go July 2018, policing will not be ready to go August 1,” Barnum told the committee, which is meeting this week to study the federal marijuana legislation. “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.”

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