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NICHE Canada : Make Public Safety “No1 Priority” in New Marijuana Laws: Top Cop

SURREY, British Columbia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

A veteran top cop is calling on Ottawa to make public safety the number one priority as Canada moves towards legalizing marijuana next year.

“There must be clear direction on legislation, enforcement, crime prevention and substance abuse,” said Jim Cessford, the former head of the Municipal Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Chiefs of Police.

“There must be current technology that enables roadside screening for police and the development of laws that are understood and enforceable,” said Cessford, who retired after a police career spanning 47 years.

Cessford, an advisor to the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE Canada), said it is essential that the Federal Government develop a public awareness and education document outlining all of the information relating to the legalization of marijuana in Canada so everyone is aware of the introduction of this new legislation into the community.

His comments come in the wake of reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government will introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana the week of April 10th and it should become law by July next year.

The Canadian government is expected to follow the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan as well as the advice of former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister.

“Canadians need to have a full comprehension of the impact and opportunities that may exist with the advent of this new legislation,” said Barinder Rasode, president and CEO of Niche Canada. “Success will come only through broad understanding, acceptance and support.”

“There are so many questions still unanswered and there is no time to lose,” she said. “We’ll continue to work with the medical profession, police, academics and scientists as these deadlines approach.”

Based in Vancouver with a national vision, NICHE Canada was established in 2017 after discussions with the Federal and Provincial governments, industry, universities, patients, consumers, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders.

(National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education)

NICHE is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides impartial and evidence-based research about cannabis production and use in Canada. NICHE’s vision for a safe and sustainable cannabis industry encompasses health, social and economic impacts.

Based in Vancouver with a national vision, NICHE was established in 2017 after discussions with the Federal and Provincial governments, industry, universities, patients, consumers, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. We have the support of highly reputable individuals who are invested in success and the wellbeing of Canadians.

In part, NICHE was a response to the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation calling on industry and government to “build upon existing and new organizations to develop and co-ordinate national research and surveillance activities.”

Much of the discussion about cannabis is taking place with little understanding of the diversity of public opinion on germane issues. The development of successful public policy will require a profound understanding of the public mindset towards these matters. Understanding the level of public awareness and engagement, and public opinion on matters that will need to be decided through legislation, will be an important part of ensuring that legislation is developed that is accepted by society.

NICHE has a national mandate to facilitate research, analyze policies, identify best practices for safe and sustainable cannabis use, share information broadly, and create open dialogue with communities. Our work will be academically rigorous, independent, and unbiased. All research and analysis will be publicly released and made available at the NICHE website.

Research from NICHE will focus on:

• The medical, social, and economic impacts of cannabis in Canada

• Understanding the risks of cannabis production and use in Canada and how risk information is used in decision making

• Best practices for safe production, processing, distribution and use of cannabis products

• Risks and best practices associated with specific products or health conditions

• Identifying areas where new research is needed to provide a foundation for informed public engagement and the ongoing development of sound policy.

Overall success will require engagement and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders. Our governance model includes a community advisory council that will ensure our connection to grassroots voices.

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