City cops still without pot policy
Chief Devine hoping to discuss issue with police association
While some police services are implementing policies to prohibit or limit off-duty cannabis use, North Bay Police Chief Shawn Devine wants to discuss the issue with the local police association.
“We did receive a document with regard to police services and what they’re doing within their own organizations with regard to legalization and use by members of police organizations through the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police,” Devine says.
“We’re looking at that document right now and we would like to have a conversation with our association to see how that is going to roll out with regard to standing operating procedures within our own organization.”
The RCMP and the Toronto police service are both eyeing a rule that would ban cannabis use by members within 28 days of a shift. The Calgary police service’s policy is even stricter, forbidding the vast majority of officers from consuming marijuana during their down time once recreational use of the drug becomes legal Oct. 17.
Such measures have sparked an outcry from a national association that represents front-line officers.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, wonders why certain services are treating cannabis differently than other legal products — such as alcohol and prescription drugs — that can cause impairment.
“Effectively what they’re saying is, ‘We don’t trust police officers to make the right decision when it comes to reporting for work fit for duty,’” Stamatakis said in an interview. “And I just find that to be an offensive approach.”
There has been no meaningful consultation on the drafting and implementation of cannabis policies for officers, which vary drastically from service to service, stamatakis says.
devine admits there isn’t a police service that is 100 per cent ready for legalization of recreational marijuana use next week.
“We don’t have a crystal ball and there will be some new challenges that will be presented,” devine said following Tuesday’s monthly police services board meeting.
“The government is providing some legislation. however, individual organizations will have to make their own decisions. right now, there’s still a lot of questions.”
devine says there’s been a lot of conversation regarding the new weed testing machine – drager drugtest 5000 – which can detect the presence of cannabis in a person’s system if they’re involved in a driving incident.
“I want to make it clear that we still have tools with regard to impairment other than just alcohol. We have members who are trained with regard to drug recognition and it is still illegal to drive a motor vehicle while impaired – any drug – whether medication, legal drugs or alcohol. And there are consequences,” he says.
“Last month, 50 officers were trained in drug recognition. I would be very reluctant to say there’s going to be any quick solution to a machine that someone can pull and take a saliva test that will give you an accurate amount of what the content of cannabis is in the body.”
devine says impaired driving can be detected by the way someone is driving.
“If someone is swerving, it doesn’t mean we have to prove someone has a certain level or amount of cannabis. If it can be proven in court you have been using cannabis and it has affected your driving, you can be found guilty of a driving offence under the criminal code.”