Ottawa's Police Chief says they are ready as can be for legalization of pot

In the final weeks before cannabis becomes legal, there are new details today from Ottawa’s police chief about the city’s plan. 

Charles Bordeleau is being cautious saying there are still a lot of unknowns. Here’s what we do know: once it's legal, there will be 24 Ottawa officers trained as drug impairment recognition experts. Another 246 will be trained as field sobriety test officers.

And we learn today that Ottawa police will not use the Draeger Drug 5000 road side test. The chief says there will be challenges for his members.  Police still don't know what the fines will be for smoking in public and who will be the licensed distributors but Bordeleau says they're as ready as they can be.

In five-weeks lighting up will be legal. The question is will front line officers be ready?

“I think the community can rest assured that the Ottawa police force is ready as it can be based on the information it has in its hands right now,” says Bordeleau.

Ottawa’s police chief was updating the Ottawa Police Services Board today on how front line officers will patrol the pot.

Upon legalization the service will have 24 drug recognition experts; the highest training an officer can get in drug detection.  They are used to provide expert evidence in court. The goal is to bring that number to 50 in two years.

On top of that, there will be another 246 field sobriety test officers, the ones used to detect drugs at the roadside. The goal is to eventually have every front line officer trained.

“The public needs to know that drug driving is illegal now,” says Bordleau, “ It will remain illegal on October 17th.”

The service though will not be using the federally approved roadside saliva Draeger Test.  The chief is concerned the technology is too new.

“It is new technology.  We have some concern with respect to that technology as it stands now.  We are satisfied with the number of standard field sobriety testers we have trained and the number of drug recognition experts that we have that we will be able to roll out and keep our roads safe the way we operate right now.”

The chief says there are still a lot of unknowns; for instance, what the fines will be for smoking pot in public, how police will enforce edible cannabis.  And marijuana will only be legal online until April which means the various pot shops currently operating in Ottawa are still illegal.  Police will still need to do enforcement.

“There are a lot of unknowns,” says Bordeleau, “but the world will continue on October 18th and our concern is public safety and keeping our roads safe.  It is illegal now to ingest drugs and drive and it will continue to be illegal and you won’t be able to smoke marijuana out in public. That’s a given.”