Calgary police officers have been told they aren’t allowed to consume recreational cannabis just weeks before recreational marijuana hits the shelves of retail outlets. The news was communicated in an internal memo circulated to all police officers.
The ban excludes members of the police service who cannot be deployed or called to a scene of crime. These include desk officers or those whose work is entirely administrative.
The police top brass say this policy decision was taken as a precautionary measure to prevent any workplace safety issues that may arise. It isn’t known for how long someone can remain impaired after consuming cannabis.
The Calgary Police Service has expressed a desire to partner with an academic institution to conduct relevant research that will provide the concrete information needed to modify this blanket ban on the consumption of recreational cannabis. Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) would certainly appreciate any windows of regulatory change signaled by the authorities in their areas of operation.
The willingness by the police authority to modify the ban may come as a small piece of good news since police officers were wondering how they could be banned from lighting up a joint during an entire five-day break from duty.
The ban may also raise some fundamental rights issues. Can the Calgary Police Service dictate what its officers do when they are off duty?
A look at how the army has handled the same issue can shed more light on how unfair this policy may be. Members of the military are required to abstain from consuming cannabis within eight hours before reporting for duty. Can’t a similar provision be made for the police service?
That takes the police back to the limited information on how long cannabis can render someone impaired.
Understandably, the union of police officers isn’t happy about this policy, but they have little to do since they have been promised that the policy is likely to change as more information becomes available about how cannabis affects cognition, psychomotor function and other processes in the human body.
One of the sentences in the memo states that it can be hard for one to self-detect that he or she has had their cognitive abilities impaired by cannabis. The abstinence policy therefore remains a logical position until more research is done to understand the effects of cannabis.
It would be interesting to listen in to the conversations that may be taking place among the leaders of the law enforcement agencies in the U.S. states where recreational cannabis has been decriminalized. Would they also take the path of forced abstinence like the Calgary Police Service has decided?
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