York Police cannabis strategy useful for Norfolk

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Members of the Norfolk County Police Services Board were presented with some tips regarding cannabis enforcement on Oct. 28.

Ahmad Salhia, a detective sergeant with the York Regional Police in the Guns, Gangs, and Drug Enforcement Unit, shared his police service’s cannabis enforcement strategy regarding illegal grow operations, partnerships throughout the community, and legislation around marijuana.

Salhia said their partners include local municipalities, Health Canada, electrical safety authority, Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, municipal bylaw, building inspectors, and law enforcement, to maintain a consistent overview of enforcement.

These partners doing their regular checks on properties would allow them to inform the York Regional Police of suspected illegal activity happening on the property, allowing the proper law enforcement to get involved.

While acknowledging that York Region and Norfolk County are different landscapes, the police services board was able to take away a significant amount of useful information to move forward with.

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“York Region and its partners have taken this issue very seriously and have given us a roadmap, if you wish, as to how things could unfold,” said board chair Dennis Travale. “I don’t want to denigrate in any way shape or form the current activity between our own bylaw and our police force because that’s a healthy working relationship, but there may be, in that roadmap, some very positive and informative issues that we should pick up on.”

Travale continued by saying they will be building a toolbox with the information provided during the presentation.

“We found out that York is working very closely with their bylaw department, and I believe if that is not taking place, it certainly should be taking place within Norfolk County,” said board member and Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus.

Columbus was also impressed with the information provided by York on how they destroy product when seizing it from illegal grow ups.

“We just passed a motion the other day at county council to pay for destroying these plants. It was actually mentioned that they have a wood chipper come in to do that job and it seems to work very well, perhaps we can utilize something similar here,” he said.

Part of the enforcement includes an understanding of individual licences, which determine if the plants are to be indoor or outdoor, and the number of plants allowed. Salhia explained an indoor grow is in a permanently fixed building, and an outdoor grow would be deemed if it is an easily removable or temporary greenhouse.

A previous meeting between the Norfolk Police Services Board and Health Canada left the board with a few questions, which were cleared up during Wednesday’s presentation. The board discovered that law enforcement officers are able to contact a confidential line to determine the licences assigned to specific locations or people within the community.

The York Region has an officer designated to researching local licences and the number of plants allowed per person. The closest thing to that in Norfolk is the Provincial Cannabis Enforcement team.

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