How long should cops be pot-free?

De­pends whom you ask

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS -

Twenty-eight days. That’s how long mem­bers of the RCMP and Toronto Po­lice have been or­dered to ab­stain from smok­ing or va­p­ing recre­ational pot be­fore re­port­ing for duty.

Cal­gary po­lice of­fi­cers won’t be al­lowed to use cannabis at all while off the job.

Such pro­hi­bi­tions have sparked a grow­ing firestorm, with the na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing front-line of­fi­cers call­ing the poli­cies “of­fen­sive” and the union for Toronto cops de­scrib­ing the ban as “ill-con­trived” and “ar­bi­trary.”

But is de­mand­ing that Moun­ties and mu­nic­i­pal po­lice of­fi­cers forgo a soonto-be le­gal sub­stance for such a lengthy pe­riod jus­ti­fied, when there’s no sim­i­lar pol­icy gov­ern­ing al­co­hol or po­ten­tially mind-al­ter­ing pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions?

That de­pends on how much a per­son con­sumes and how of­ten, said Dr. James Mackil­lop, co-di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre for Medic­i­nal Cannabis Re­search at Mcmaster Uni­ver­sity.

“So if you smoke to­day, within a few days it will be en­tirely out of your sys­tem be­cause a sin­gle in­stance may be longer-last­ing than al­co­hol but it still nonethe­less will be me­tab­o­lized and will be ex­creted,” Mackil­lop said from Hamil­ton. “If a per­son is a reg­u­lar, fre­quent user, then that win­dow gets much longer be­cause cannabis is what’s called lipophilic, which means it’s ab­sorbed into the body’s fat cells and then it leeches back out from the fat tis­sue into the blood­stream. And that’s why it’s also de­tectable in urine.

“So if a per­son’s a heavy user, it may in­deed be de­tectable for up to a month.” But Rielle Capler, a re­searcher with the B.C. Cen­tre On Sub­stance Use, con­sid­ers such lengthy pe­ri­ods of pre-work ab­sti­nence un­rea­son­able based on how long the ac­tive psy­choac­tive com­po­nent of cannabis and break­down prod­ucts known as me­tab­o­lites can af­fect the brain.

“While the me­tab­o­lites might still be present in the urine or blood that long, there is no con­nec­tion to ac­tual im­pair­ment,” she said Fri­day from Van­cou­ver.

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