With federal legalization just around the corner, Canadian law enforcement agencies have been busy writing new policies, training officers and acquiring new equipment to handle the anticipated uptick in Canadians under the influence of cannabis. The Canadian government along with provincial authorities have invested millions of dollars in programs and training to combat drug-impaired driving, crack down on illicit dispensaries and keep cannabis out of kids’ hands. Overall, law enforcement has been a persistent voice of concern and skepticism about legal weed.
But a new workplace drug policy just announced by Vancouver police suggests the department may be more chill than others when it comes to legal weed. Because while Vancouver cops still can’t consume weed on the job, their new work policy lets them get as high as they want off-duty.
Vancouver to Police: Use As Much Weed As You Want Off-Duty
Cannabis legalization typically brings with it concerns about workplace drug use. In the U.S., for example, employers have sanctioned and even terminated employees for failing drug screenings due to legal cannabis use off the clock. But rarely is the issue raised about the workers whose job is enforcing marijuana laws. Many simply assume cops don’t have an interest in using cannabis, even if its legal.
But that’s clearly not the case. And the law is the law. Canadian police, when they’re off duty, have the same rights as anyone else who’s of-age to consume cannabis. And with their new workplace drug policy, the Vancouver police department is acknowledging that.
On Monday, the VPD announced a proposed update to its regulations. The change would add leniency to the workplace drug policy. Police can consume cannabis while off duty. As long as an officer is “fit for duty” when they arrive to work, there won’t be a problem. The proposal is up for a vote at the VPD’s regular board meeting Wednesday.
VPD Work Policy Acknowledges Difficulty of Proving Cannabis Intoxication
Importantly, the VPD policy does not specify a time period prior to coming on duty in which an officer must abstain from cannabis. Yet other military and law enforcement branches do enforce a timeframe. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces, for example, cannot consume legal cannabis within eight hours of work or less than 24 hours before handling a loaded weapon.
But the VPD’s refusal to impose a timeframe accords with scientific consensus about the virtual impossibility of determining cannabis intoxication. How long a high lasts depends greatly on the individual. Furthermore, there is no scientific agreement on how long impairment lasts or even how to accurately test for impairment.
So instead of setting an abstinence timeframe, VPD is simply maintaining the expectation that its officers arrive to work ready to do their jobs. And as long as an officer holds to that expectation, they can consume as much weed as they want while off duty.
One only wonders whether police will keep the rationale for their own policy in mind when they screen drivers for suspected cannabis intoxication or prior cannabis use.