Police Agencies in Atlantic Canada Discuss How Cannabis Legalization Has Impacted Their Communities

We're just over a month into cannabis legalization in Canada, and so far, police in the nation's Atlantic provinces say the new law hasn't had any major impact on their day-to-day jobs.

"Our calls for service, or nuisance calls, in terms of smoking in public or those kinds of things, have been fairly consistent with what we've seen pre-legalization," Constable John MacLeod - Public Information Officer for the Halifax Regional Police - told Journal Pioneer. "There hasn't been any great draws on our resources since [October 17]."

However, Sgt. Jennifer McCarron of the Charlottetown Police Service says they've actually seen a decrease in the number of cannabis-related calls since legalization.

"We had more complaints before it was legalized. It's not as big a problem as it was," McCarron said. "We're not getting the amount of calls we thought we would get. I think it may be because people are more accepting of it."

In fact, the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador seems to be one of the few police forces to actually see an increase in cannabis violations. Still, Cpl. Jolene Garland says the total number of cases has actually decreased, and most of the violations they're seeing are minor offenses that deserve tickets instead of handcuffs. Things like smoking in public, or having cannabis in a vehicle. Garland chalks those infractions up to the fact that residents are still adjusting to the new laws.

"I think what we're seeing now is attributed to the fact that people are still trying to figure out what’s legal and what’s illegal," Garland said. "Maybe some thought the new law meant a free-for-all. It could be a case where they're still trying to decipher what the new legislation means."

Garland also says it's much easier for police to process minor violations under the new regulations, which may be contributing to the increases she's seeing.

"Now, there's more ease to laying a charge, as opposed to a Criminal Code offense. The issue is dealt with there on the scene, as opposed to going to court."

So as far as minor crimes go, things look pretty much the same now as they did before cannabis was legalized. But MacLed says it's too soon to comment on bigger cases such as illicit manufacturing and trafficking of cannabis. However, we do know that there hasn't been an increase in impaired driving in Canada though.

Looks like legalizing recreational cannabis isn't so bad after all.

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