Police in Canada want to know: can the get high?
Forces across the country are wrestling with the question of whether to determine if officers can smoke marijuana when it is legalized on 17 October.
Most cities have yet to finalize a policy on the issue, but four have already come out in favour of consumption. Vancouver, Ottawa, Regina and Montreal will all let their officers use the drug recreationally – as long as they’re fit for service.
“We don’t tell our employees they cannot drink alcohol in their own time, away from work,” the Regina police chief, Evan Bray, said in a statement, suggesting marijuana should be treated in a similar manner. In Vancouver, officers are asked to self-evaluate their mental fitness for duty.
Those drafting the policies say they are appealing to “common sense” regulations: “It’s just like any other workplace: you can’t come to work if you’re impaired by alcohol or a drug, even if the drug is prescription medicine,” Supt David Haye of the Saskatoon police told the CBC.
In contrast, Calgary is the first city to have introduced a zero-consumption policy.
“[Officers] who are qualified to use firearms and are able to be operationally deployed, as well as sworn police recruits, are prohibited from using recreational cannabis on or off duty,” said an internal memo from the Calgary police. The union representing the officers plans to fight the rule after complaints from officers.
The Canadian military has said that soldiers can ingest cannabis – but must do so at least eight hours before they report for duty.
Police in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has yet to publicly announce a policy on cannabis, but has already had to deal with high-profile officers getting high. Earlier in the year, two Toronto officers were caught consuming a cannabis-infused chocolate bar while on duty. After they began to experience hallucinations, the pair requested backup.
The two officers were suspended following an internal investigation and are now facing charges for obstruction of justice and breach of trust.