Toronto police officers won’t be allowed to use recreational cannabis within 28 days of reporting for duty, according to an internal video announcement by police Chief Mark Saunders.
In a statement, police union head Mike McCormack said the union has not yet seen the “draft policy” on cannabis use and will conduct a legal analysis once they have obtained an official copy of the policy. Currently under the Police Services Act, police officers commit misconduct if they consume drugs or alcohol such that they are unfit for duty.
Ahead of the Oct. 17 legalization date, police forces across the country have begun releasing varied policies on recreational cannabis use.
At the strictest end is Calgary where the police force announced a complete ban on recreational cannabis use in any form for officers qualified to carry firearms who are capable of being operationally deployed. The Calgary police union has opposed the policy, suggesting it may exceed the authority of the police service to completely restrict the off-duty use of legal substances.
In Vancouver and in Ottawa officers are permitted to use recreational cannabis as long as they arrive to work “fit for duty.” A 24-hour abstinence period prior to going on duty was rejected by the Vancouver police board out of concern it would lead to confusion about what it takes to be fit for duty.
The Canadian Armed Forces restricts all military personnel from using cannabis eight hours before going on duty. That increases to 24 hours before handling or operating a weapon.
The Ontario Provincial Police is expected to announce their policy soon.
Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis
Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati