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Guelph police, OPP launch Festive RIDE campaign with cannabis top of mind

Wellington County OPP’s detachment commander says officers will be facing a new dynamic during their Festive RIDE campaign this year now that recreational cannabis is legal in Canada.

During the campaign’s launch on Thursday afternoon, Insp. Scott Lawson said officers are prepared to detect and charge impaired drivers over the holiday season.

“We know that cannabis is legal — we’ll be stopping vehicles in RIDE programs and we’ll be dealing with cannabis in whatever fashion that is,” Lawson told reporters.

“We have to be prepared for that and we are.”

Officers blocked off a portion on Wellington Street in Guelph on Thursday afternoon, stopping dozens of drivers, including truck drivers, city workers and Guelph Transit operators to see if they were impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Lawson said combating impaired drivers is a job that happens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but it is more prevalent around the holidays.

BELOW: What are the penalties for driving high?

He said people often go to business Christmas parties and lunches during the day, have a few drinks and then drive back to work or drive home.

“We need to be aware of that and have RIDE programs in place that aren’t your typical Friday and Saturday nights,” he said.

Last year, the Wellington County detachment led all OPP jurisdictions in alcohol-related charges.

“That’s not a good stat,” Lawson said. “At the same time, it says we’re out there and we’re apprehending.”

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