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Limited role for MLE with legalized pot

A recent city report outlines the limited role that will be played by municipal law enforcement following marijuana legalization. (Photo courtesy of Brett Levin/Flickr)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

As the federal government gets set to open the doors on legalized marijuana later this year, the question of regulation and enforcement have come to the forefront. However, for Oshawa’s municipal law enforcement squad, it’s not a question they really need to concern themselves with.

According to a recently released staff report, Oshawa’s Municipal Law Enforcement and Licensing Services (MLELS) staff don’t foresee much in the way of additional work once marijuana becomes legal. Originally scheduled for July 1, legalization has been pushed back to later in 2018.

As it stands, MLE officers will be more or less hands-off when it comes to enforcement of the different issues surrounding legalized marijuana as many of the enforcement and licensing roles will fall to other agencies.

In terms of illegal public consumption rules, the federal government has said the use of the drug will be limited to private residences, thus the enforcement would fall to the Durham Health department. Illegal possession of marijuana and the enforcement of illegal dispensaries would both fall to the Durham Regional Police Service.

With that said, MLE staff acknowledge there may be a bit of overlap in terms of responsibility.

“While some authorities may also be extended to the Provincial Offences Officers (which could include the city’s MLEOs) it is anticipated that such enforcement will remain with police services as police services are better equipped to handle the duties of various enforcement roles,” the report from Jerry Conlin, the director of MLELS states.

However, several questions are still lingering around legalization, including the operation of cannabis lounges within municipalities. It has been left to the province to decide whether to allow these businesses to operate, and if they are given the green light, the city’s MLE staff may play a more involved role in the licensing process.

With that said, the City of Oshawa has already stated their outright condemnation of these sites, asking the province to not allow them to operate until the cities have a better grasp on the impacts of legalized marijuana.

“Any consideration of licensed and regulated cannabis consumption lounges/venues should be deferred until the impacts of legalization are better understood,” a previous report reads.

Requests for comment on the recent report from MLE director Conlin were not returned as of The Oshawa Express press deadline.