Calgary police choose zero-use policy for cannabis

The Calgary police have decided that they will be instilling a zero-use policy for cannabis once it is legalized next week. A memo put out in September notified the available-for-duty officers who are qualified to use a handgun that they are banned from any use of the drug, on or off duty.

“It’s the path of least resistance” said Calgary police union president Les Kaminski. An internal memo was sent out which advised the officers of the new policy and informed them that there had been a thorough review of the available scientific studies with the key stakeholders being consulted before the decision was made about the changes.

“Studies show cannabis can affect short term memory, learning, coordination, multitasking, movement control and high cognitive function. The effects of cannabis on a person widely vary, cognitive impairment can be difficult to self-detect, and the maximum duration of cognitive impairment has not yet been established.” – from CPS internal memo

According to Kaminski this new policy is line with the guidelines that have been established by the Canadian Associations of Chiefs of Police but notes that there could be changes in the next year as more information becomes available and technology advances. Under the new regulation officers are not to engage in “consumption of use of liquor or drugs in a manner that is prejudicial to duty” which means that officers are not “reporting for duty, being on duty or standing by for duty while unfit to do so by reason of the use of alcohol or a drug.”

Kaminski also noted that he expects upcoming challenges with regard to the new policy, saying “I’ve gotten phone calls from members saying, ‘I’m not going to use, but the service has no jurisdiction to tell me what I can and cannot do on my days off'”. The CPS policy is in fact more strict than that put in place by the Canadian military which has stated that, with some exceptions, its members may consume cannabis up to eight hours before duty.

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