Regardless of one’s thoughts about the wisdom of legalizing marijuana, it is worrisome that so few police officers are training to detect drivers who are impaired by the substance.

It’s been widely feared that permitting cannabis consumption will lead to more trouble on our already accident-plagued roadways — a suspicion now confirmed by Calgary police.

Sgt. Rick Butler says other jurisdictions that have legalized pot use have reported a rise in crime connected to drug impairment.

“We have seen an increase in collisions and charges from drug-impaired driving in each of the areas that have already brought in legislation,” said Butler, who heads the force’s alcohol and drug recognition unit.

“We’re expecting to see that here as well.”

That’s a troubling observation. It’s expected that by the time cannabis becomes legal in October, only 30 Calgary Police Service members will have completed the drug recognition certification that helps officers assess impairment levels.

As Postmedia reporter Shawn Logan noted earlier this week, that’s the equivalent of one trained officer for every 40,000 people — a number just under the capacity of McMahon Stadium. Such a shortage of resources when it comes to detecting drivers who have consumed too much cannabis is shocking.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to permit pot smoking during the 2015 election, but clearly there’s been a lapse in the planning of the implementation of the new rules. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police aimed to have 2,000 officers trained as drug recognition experts, but only 733 individuals had received the specialized instruction nationwide as of May.

The association estimates it will take another five years to achieve its target for the training, which involves three weeks of classroom work and a week of field certification in the United States. The officers are instructed how to administer a 12-step evaluation, which includes biological testing to …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald


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