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Amherst Police ready for cannabis legalization

Monique Zollner, manager of the Amherst Superstore NSLC, talks to regional manager Chris Mitton (left) and store assistant manager and cannabis section manager John Estabrooks about the cannabis section in advance of the store’s opening
Monique Zollner, manager of the Amherst Superstore NSLC, talks to regional manager Chris Mitton (left) and store assistant manager and cannabis section manager John Estabrooks about the cannabis section in advance of the store’s opening. Cannabis is legal in Nova Scotia and Canada as of Wednesday - Darrell Cole

It's now legal to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in Nova Scotia

AMHERST, N.S. – Amherst’s acting police chief is not expecting many problems now that recreational cannabis is legal.

“We’re as prepared as anyone else,” Dwayne Pike said. “You gear up for the worse, but it’s probably not going to be as bad as everyone expects.”

As of today, Nova Scotians age 19 and over will be able to go into one of 12 locations across the province and purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis. While law enforcement agencies and municipalities have expressed concerns with the legalization of cannabis for recreational use and the added cost and logistics of enforcement, Pike said his department has been preparing for this since the federal government passed the legislation removing possession of the drug from the Criminal Code.

“This is something we’ve known was coming for a long time and there have been some changes in the statutes and the laws that we’ve been trying to prepare for,” Pike said. “Bottomline is people are going to behave they way they’re going to behave and I don’t think anyone is going to change their behaviour drastically and I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue for us.”

Pike said the biggest concern will be community safety and what sort of lessons children are being taught. He said it will be important for police and its community partners to reinforce making responsible decisions when it comes to using cannabis and other drugs.

“The big thing is we’ll have to keep on top of this while keeping an open mind and working with the community,” Pike said.

The acting chief is not expecting an uptick in activity and, while some people may purchase cannabis out of curiosity he’s not expecting a big number of people suddenly deciding to use cannabis.

There are some laws people will still have to follow. No one under age 19 is allowed to possess cannabis and those caught with the drug could face fines up to $150 and/or criminal charges. Those 19 and over in possession of more than 30 grams could be charged under the federal Cannabis Act. Selling or providing cannabis to someone under age 19 could result in fines up to $10,000.

People are also reminded they can’t smoke cannabis and drive a vehicle and cannabis in a vehicle must be stored in closed, sealed package out of the reach of anyone in the vehicle. Police agencies have drug recognition expects who can detect if a driver is impaired by drugs.

Bev Ware of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation said the inventory it has is in place at its stores.

“All will have some, but none will have the full amount or selection of products we had anticipated,” Ware said, adding the corporation expects things to be busy across the province in the first few days.

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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