Salmon Arm RCMP Staff Sgt. Scott West says planned marijuana legalization may mean that in many places where you can have a cigarette you can also smoke pot. (File photo)

Police plan for new pot law

Marijuana may be allowed in many smoking areas in the Shuswap

While cannabis legislation is filling the heads of federal politicians, it is also in focus for those at the municipal level.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Staff Sgt. Scott West of the Salmon Arm detachment, who was presenting his quarterly report to council, was asked about the legislation.

July is the target for the federal government’s enacting the bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

“I have a good idea of what we can and can’t do as a police department… and where it won’t be able to be used…,” West said, explaining it’s early so things are still to be finalized. “Right now it appears anywhere you can have a cigarette you can have a joint.”

He told the Observer banned areas are listed in provincial legislation. They include areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks and playgrounds. Marijuana is also banned from use in all vehicles.

Related link: Marijuana legislation raises more questions

West said he has a binder of federal regulations, about an inch thick, double-sided.

He says it appears federal regulations will regulate licensing, as will provincial. Federal prosecutions in court will remain for certain offences.

“Fines on the enforcement side of things federally and provincially will range from $200 to $5 million – I believe $5 million is more on the corporate side.”

Drug-impaired driving laws are coming from the province, he said. In B.C., recreational marijuana sales will be both retail and online.

West noted that because there hasn’t been any case law, he foresees a push and pull in terms of legislation.

He told council he’s been in touch with inspectors to know who will be inspecting retail shops.

“There will be tickets written and legal precedents set as we move forward.”


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