Canadian police services still putting ‘finishing touches’ on pot consumption policy for officers

Many Canadian police services are still “putting the finishing touches” on the rules surrounding officers’ consumption of cannabis, less than three weeks before marijuana is legalized for recreational use.

So far, Calgary is the only jurisdiction with a complete abstinence policy.

Officers in the Calgary Police Service will be banned from consuming marijuana even on their days off or vacations — a policy that the police union says it plans to fight.

Other police departments with policies in place require officers to be “fit for duty,” more in line with the rules surrounding the consumption of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Both the RCMP and the military will allow members to light up, though the Canadian Forces says personnel must leave at least eight hours between using cannabis and being on duty.

The Vancouver Police Department approved its policy this week, with officers required to self-evaluate whether they are fit for duty.

“We don’t have a specific time limit on alcohol or prescription drug use, and we will not be implementing one for cannabis,” said Const. Jason Doucette, a department spokesperson.

“Our officers will be provided with information surrounding cannabis use and potency, etc., and it will be their responsibility to ensure they show up fit for duty.”

‘We don’t tell employees they cannot drink alcohol’

Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax haven’t yet released their rules, but Regina has indicated it has no plans to ban officers from using the soon-to-be-legal drug.

The “finishing touches” are being put on the policy, but the Regina police chief says the approach there will be similar to the rules surrounding alcohol use.

“It involves finding the right balance between avoiding regulating what our employees do in their own spare time and the expectation that they are fit for duty when they come to work.

“We don’t tell our employees they cannot drink alcohol in their own time, away from work, but we do expect our officers to show up for work fit for duty,” said Chief Evan Bray.

Breakdown city by city

The Toronto Police Service said it is “considering specific direction to members regarding the recreational use of cannabis.” A spokesperson said “at this stage, all options are being considered.”

The only stipulation for Ottawa police is they must be “free from the effects of alcohol or any drug including cannabis” when they report for duty.

Here’s a list of Canadian police services that responded to CBC’s request for details on cannabis policies:

  • Vancouver: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Calgary: Officers not allowed to consume.
  • Edmonton: No policy yet.
  • Regina: No policy yet, but officers will be allowed to consume.
  • Winnipeg: No policy yet.
  • Toronto: No policy yet.
  • Ottawa: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Montreal: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Halifax: No policy yet.
  • St. John’s: No policy yet.
  • RCMP: No policy yet. Officers will be allowed to consume. 
  • Military: Members allowed to consume, but not within eight hours of a shift.

CBC News also reached out to services in Quebec City, Fredericton and Charlottetown but did not receive responses. 

All Canadian police officers will receive online training through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) on the new federal legislation.

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