Armed police patrol in Toronto's Pearson International Airport. (J.P. Moczulski, AFP/Getty Images)

Canadian police ask government to postpone marijuana legalization

TORONTO — Canada’s police services told the Canadian government Tuesday that there is no chance they will be ready to enforce new laws for nationwide legalized marijuana by next summer.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police already wrote to the federal government this week officially requesting a delay in implementation of the plan by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to implement legal pot sales next July 1.

Some of the premiers of Canada’s 10 provinces told the government in June that they also might not be ready by that deadline, and only one province has completed and published its rules for the sale of recreational pot, including regulations on where it can be sold.

Representatives from the police chiefs association, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Saskatoon Police Service said that they need more time to properly train officers about the new laws and that they will have to more than double the number of officers certified to conduct roadside tests for drug-impaired driving. They also said more time is needed for public education.

Appearing before a Parliament health committee studying Trudeau’s bill to make marijuana legal, the representatives also called for the government to reconsider allowing people to grow pot at home They said it will be difficult to police and could make it easier for young people to obtain marijuana.

Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to Canada’s minister of justice, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that police departments have questions that need to be answered and said the federal government knows there is an enormous amount of work to do

“Certainly the time lines are tight. I very much respect what law enforcement said today. We’ve listened to their concerns,” said Blair, a former police chief in Toronto. “We can’t allow the status quo to remain because it’s unacceptable. We have the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. The entire cannabis market is controlled by criminal enterprise.”

Blair said the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec have said they will be ready and noted that Ontario has announced its rules for legal pot.

Ontario, which is Canada’s most populous province, announced Friday that marijuana will be sold in as many as 150 government-run stores and a government-run website. It decided pot would not be sold at government-run alcohol stores, and private marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up around the province will be illegal.

Legalization would make Canada the second country to have nationwide legalization, after Uruguay.