Police are still learning about what the rules are around legalized cannabis, said Victoria Police Chief Const. Del Manak on Wednesday morning.
“The answers may not be black and white, and will change as rules and regulations develop,” Manak said.
He affirmed, however, that the Victoria Police Department’s top three priorities align with the Federal Cannabis Act: to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, to keep profits out of the hands of criminals, and to protect the public’s health and safety by allowing adults access to “safe, legal an regulated cannabis.”
That being said, Manak said that the VicPD have no plans to take any for of “direct enforcement action” against any of the illegally operating cannabis dispensaries currently open in town.
He added that overall, there would not be a great amount of change for VicPD officers, noting that there hadn’t been many charges for small amounts of marijuana possession in years, and that traffic enforcement officers have been taking impaired drivers off of the road for decades.
“This really is not uncharted territory for us,” Manak said.
VicPD will not be using any kind of oral screening device to test for cannabis levels in someone’s system, and instead continue to focus on the Standard Field Sobriety Tests traditionally used to determine if a driver is impaired.
“We looked at all the literature out there, and there were some concerns over the reliability and accuracy of the the instrument,” Manak said. “The instrument is not practical to use as well, it’s very bulky, it’s cost prohibitive and training involved in using that instrument, we felt that what we currently have in place will suffice.”
Police will be unveiling a new education campaign shortly called “wait until you get home” to encourage drivers not to smoke before or while driving.
“It’s illegal, it’s not safe and you’re putting yourself and others at risk, it’s really that simple,” Manak said.
VicPD officers will be allowed to use cannabis in their personal time, as long as they do so with at least 24 hours before their next shift, and that they’re not on call.
Manak said today officers had one thing to focus on:
“That the sun came up and that it’s gonna be okay,” he said. “There’s been a lot of fear mongering that this day would come and go and things would fall apart, but at the end of the day the people need to know that the police are ready.”
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