Halifax Regional Police officers will have to heavily restrict their use of recreational cannabis once legalization takes place on Oct. 17.
“After much consideration, we have decided to implement a cannabis policy that restricts consumption for all employees in safety-sensitive positions to twenty-eight (28) days prior to reporting for duty,” Chief Jean Michel-Blais wrote in an email outlining the internal policy for officers.
According to the email obtained by Global News, safety and a perceived lack of research are the two main reasons behind the decision to implement a 28-day restriction.
“The fundamental reason we opted for this approach was that there is simply not enough research available at this time about the full effects of cannabis use, and especially how long these effects can last,” Michel-Blais wrote.
Recreational cannabis restrictions vary for law enforcement officers across the country.
Police services in Vancouver and Montreal are following a more lenient approach, and have a “fit for duty” policy in place for their members.
Some of the strictest police services are Edmonton and Calgary. Both cities have a zero-tolerance policy in place for their members.
Halifax is following the lead of the Toronto Police Service and the RCMP, which are also following the 28-day guideline.
“We’ve been talking to a lot of our law enforcement partners, not just within Nova Scotia but throughout the country and there are no perfect answers as you know and there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to this legislation,” said Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Neera Ritcey.
“One of the things that we wanted to make sure that we were doing was that we were equipping our employees and our work place with a policy that would ensure a safe workplace and safe communities and we believe that this is a right step. And certainly at this point as you know, there isn’t a lot of research around the effects of cannabis, especially how long the effects can last.”
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Any use of recreational cannabis outside of the 28-day window is forbidden.
“We will be entering a brand-new environment with many unknowns. We expect more research will be conducted and become available in months and years ahead,” Michel-Blais wrote.
The Halifax Regional Police service will enforce the restriction through an “honour-based system” and expect compliance to be a non-issue from officers.
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