With cannabis retailers coming soon, Langford residents can expect to see a familiar face around the community more often.
Const. Don McIntosh, who grew up on the West Shore, is the new cannabis liaison officer with the West Shore RCMP and will facilitate education around cannabis.
“Community engagement dovetails nicely with being a cannabis liaison officer,” McIntosh said. “Most people know recreational cannabis became legal in October but there’s a misconception that it’s just a free for all.”
In his role, McIntosh will create awareness around cannabis use, educate and inform the public about cannabis related regulations.
He has already started speaking with youths in the community and talked with about 40 to 50 Royal Bay Secondary students for around an hour about cannabis regulations, laws and how they are affected by them.
McIntosh said when speaking with them, he tried to engage them and even showed an example of what someone could expect if pulled over for drug impaired driving.
“(Youths) have a lot of jeopardy in this,” McIntosh said. “(Cannabis) is very heavily regulated and a lot of people don’t know that.”
A minor can be charged $230 for possessing or consuming cannabis or for possessing cannabis accessories like a pipe or bong, according to McIntosh.
One of the big messages McIntosh is trying to hammer home with the public, and especially youths, is to make good choices and not drive when impaired by drugs.
“There’s a real stigma around somebody getting into a vehicle with somebody who’s drinking and driving and that’s a great thing,” McIntosh said. “There’s not that stigma yet around drug impaired driving and cannabis use. Trying to get that to happen is what I’d like to see down the road.”
According to McIntosh, some common ticketed offences since legalization include adults operating a vehicle with cannabis in it, adults being in possession of cannabis, and minors possessing or consuming cannabis.
In the first six months of legalization, 285 tickets were written for adults operating a vehicle with cannabis in it and 25 warnings were written. This is not including numbers from municipal police departments.
Earlier in May, SD62 hosted an event that McIntosh attended to help parents in the community learn about cannabis and vaping. McIntosh said about 100 adults attended.
“I think it was great that (SD62) did that, they took that on,” McIntosh said.
Moving forward, McIntosh will also be liaising with the licensed retail cannabis stores that open up, the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch in B.C. and with the new provincial community safety unit that is addressing unlicensed retailers.
The Original Farm Langford Ltd. and Clarity Cannabis have been approved to set up retail locations in Langford. Clarity Cannabis will open next door to the West Shore RCMP detachment while The Original Farm Langford Ltd. will be in the new Belmont Market.
Companies that applied to open retail locations in Langford have agreed to help fund two community liaison officers — one of them being McIntosh — as part of their application, according to Langford Mayor Stew Young.
McIntosh stressed that when it comes to information about cannabis, there is a lot of easy access to reliable sources online, including government websites. He advised that the public use those sources to learn about cannabis and related regulations.
“Do your research and know what you’re getting into before you get into it,” McIntosh said.
As for parents, McIntosh — who is a parent himself — said they should try to maintain a good relationship with their children and ensure there is open dialogue.
“Make sure your kids aren’t afraid to talk to you about it and if you see something out of sorts address it,” McIntosh said. “If you don’t know how to address it go and speak to a teacher, principal, police officer or doctor — someone who can point you in the right direction.”