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Charlottetown police, RCMP preparing for legalization day on Oct. 17

A coalition of Summerside-based groups has come together to encourage Islanders to not drive while impaired once recreational cannabis becomes legal on Wednesday. They include, from left, MADD East Prince member Gloria McNeill, Cpl. Jason Blacquiere of Summerside Police Services, Capt. Ron Enman of the Summerside Fire Department and Adam Rogers of Island EMS.
A coalition of Summerside-based groups has come together to encourage Islanders to not drive while impaired once recreational cannabis becomes legal on Wednesday. They include, from left, MADD East Prince member Gloria McNeill, Cpl. Jason Blacquiere of Summerside Police Services, Capt. Ron Enman of the Summerside Fire Department and Adam Rogers of Island EMS. - Colin MacLean

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I.  - Charlottetown Police Services has been actively training officers in preparation for the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17.

Const. Ron Kennedy said it’s definitely not business as usual.

“We began several months ago, when we realized that this was going to be rolling out . . . we became proactive and started training more and more officers as part of this rollout,’’ Kennedy told The Guardian. “We’ve increased the number of D.R.E. (drug recognition experts) officers. We’ve also increased (the number of) officers that are trained in standardized field sobriety testing and we’ll also be training officers here in the not-too-distant future on the oral fluid device as well.’’

Kennedy is talking about a device that takes a sample of a person’s saliva, if the officer suspects someone has drugs in their system. The device will simply tell police whether there is the presence of a drug but it doesn’t provide any readings as to percentages or the amount. It merely detects presence.

Therefore, even though the device might indicate the presence of cannabis it doesn’t automatically mean the driver is impaired.

“Based on the results we would do further testing to determine if that person is, in fact, impaired by that drug or another drug.’’

City police haven’t stopped there.

They’ve also been proactive in schools and in the community, warning drivers not to drive impaired.

Const. Tim Keizer, a resource officer at Colonel Gray High School, has been especially active in this regard, talking to students and parents about marijuana in particular and on the dangers of marijuana in combination with alcohol.

RCMP said they will be treating Oct. 17 the same as every day — impaired driving is impaired driving.

The national police force will continue to investigate and lay charges.

“Police have been dealing with cannabis for a very long time, and now that it’s legal, our approach remains the same,’’ the RCMP said in a statement released to The Guardian in an email. “Apprehend and charge impaired drivers, no matter what the cause. Alcohol, prescription drugs, cannabis or any combination can constitute a charge.’’

The RCMP statement also noted all police agencies across P.E.I. have access to specially trained officers to detect drug-impaired driving using roadside standard field sobriety testing and drug recognition expert evaluation.

“Courts on the Island use this expertise to convict impaired drivers and have done so for a number of years now.’’


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