Recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada, but many questions remain unanswered.
TL;DR The city of Montreal has granted the SPVM an additional $5,000,000 to create a squad whose sole mission will be to pursue sales of cannabis outside the SQDC.
It will be a while before statistics agencies can collect on the newly-legal drug. Officials are still unsure as to its effect on public safety, crime, and, especially, the public budget.
Governments expect to make big on cannabis taxes. But as provinces and municipalities capitalize on this new source of revenue, they will also have to significantly invest in the police departments whose mission it is to enforce the country's new marijuana-related laws.
Strict laws that regulate everything from cannabis sales, to consumption, to storage, combined with a new, liberal public attitude toward the drug will create a challenge for law enforcement agencies across the country.
Officers will have to expend more resources to make the law clear. General ignorance of most of these regulations and confusion about their differences between municipalities will not help the situation.
What's worse, Canada's new cannabis laws are toally untested. Legalization is a grand experiment. Police departments don't even yet have a proven test to catch motorists driving high.
Such uncertainty explains why the city of Montreal is giving the SPVM an extra five million dollars to enforce marijuana laws, particularly those that give the province complete authority over distribution.
The money comes from a grant from the public security ministry but, ultimately, from taxpayers.
According to the newly-released 2019 municipal budget, that five million will fund a new team dedicated to the hunt for cannabis products and dealers outside the government-run network of dispensaries.
The squad's only "mission is to carry out investigations aimed at countering the market of the smuggling of cannabis," the budget states.
The province has exclusive control of cannabis sales through the société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). While the government states that this method will better ensure public safety, some have criticized the measure for its monopoly of profits.
Sales outside the SQDC network, therefore, both undermine public safety and threaten the province's stream of cannabis revenue.
People in Quebec who continue purchase illicit product outside the SQDC should probably think twice. Montreal police will soon have the resources to doggedly pursue dealers.