The Saskatoon Police Department, after breaking down possible costs related to the legalization of cannabis expected later this summer, determined that the first year of such an undertaking will cost the police service approximately $500,000 more. That number was arrived at by calculating everything from training and extra hours put in by staff to check stops, Drug Detection K-9 and roadside screening devices. The service does indicate that many costs are unknown such as additional investigational staff or the costs of patrol calls for service.
Now in Regina, that city used a model other police agencies have used to forecast costs associated with legalizing cannabis which means anticipating additional expenses in the first year to be between 1.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent of the police force’s operating budget. That would mean Regina Police Service estimate of costs would be between 1.2 million and 1.8 million dollars annually.
Saskatoon Police chief Troy Cooper says their estimate is lower partly because of what has been reported as an expense and when. For instance, the Regina estimate includes training that has already happened, whereas Saskatoon’s estimate doesn’t. He adds the soft cost of not having an officer available to do their regular shift while they are away on training is also not included in the estimate.
One cost that most wouldn’t normally think of deals with the police dogs that are trained to sniff out illicit drugs including marijuana. Once marijuana is legalized, these dogs will still be tracking down marijuana so there may need to be new dogs and new training.
One of the reasons given for legalizing marijuana was to take a bite out of organized crime but Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper says organized crime won’t just disappear. Removing the unregulated and serious competition of organized crime will need a strong law enforcement program, so additional enforcement strategies and personnel may be needed, but at this point the cost and number of additional investigators is unknown.