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Canada Launches Online Cannabis Training Course for Police Force

The free, online course will train police officers in identifying different forms of cannabis, detecting drugged driving and more.

Adam Drury

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Canada Launches Online Cannabis Training Course for Police Force
Michael Garnett/ Flickr

Back in May, Canada’s law enforcement officials were anxiously eyeing June’s vote on cannabis. While many eagerly awaited Canada’s Cannabis Act to pass, police departments worried about running out of time to train officers for a Canada with legalized marijuana. But a new online cannabis training course is aiming to speed up the process for the nation’s law enforcement agencies. With it, officers have a much better chance of being ready to enforce the rules and regulations of the Cannabis Act when it goes into effect on October 17.

Online Training Course Will Help Cops Apply New Cannabis Laws

The Canadian government spends tens of millions of dollars each year on police training. And legalized cannabis is demanding that they spend millions more. Already this year, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) rolled out a new training course to train police officers on techniques for detecting drug-impaired driving. Officers first receive training in basic field sobriety tests, then move on to training for detecting drug impairment.

Eventually, the RCMP began offering those training courses online, spurring the idea to launch an Introduction to Cannabis Legislation training module online. The online course is available to all Canadian police services. The program also doesn’t cost departments anything to complete, making it very accessible. And overall, the program is low-cost because it uses already-existing online infrastructure to share information between police.

The goal of the online training course is to standardize training for all law enforcement agencies across Canada. This way, officers can consistently apply the new cannabis laws in a knowledgeable way. And if it’s a success, law enforcement officials hope the training module can be a model for adapting to future legislative changes that impact policing.

What Does The Cannabis Training Course Cover?

Canada’s Cannabis Act, which will go into effect October 17, 2018, legalizes adult-use cannabis nationwide. Between now and then, Canadian law enforcement will continue to treat cannabis as a prohibited controlled substance. But that’s not what the new online training course addresses.

Instead, the course will prepare officers for dealing with legal cannabis, including the fine points of the new legislation. What are criminal offenses and the elements and powers of arrest for each offense under the Cannabis Act? How does the Act affect policing in Canada’s First Nation territories and reserves?

Then, there’s training in identifying not only the different forms of cannabis but also their quantities. Police need to know how much botanical cannabis is legal versus cannabis oils or other concentrates, for example. There’s also the difference between limits and restrictions for medical versus non-medical use with which police must be familiar.

Finally, the course offers training that covers critical thinking in new, uncertain situations bound to arise under legalization, such as identifying safe and unsafe situations and environments related to cannabis.

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