West Vancouver Police Department announces a new cannabis-use policy in light of legalization

Officers in West Vancouver will be allowed to consume cannabis up to 24-hours before their shift

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      In a string of announcements from police departments across Canada, the West Vancouver Police (WVPD) published a revised drug-use policy for its officers.

      While West Vancouver cops must show up for work unimpaired, they are allowed to consume cannabis up to 24-hours before their shift and won’t be subjected to randomized testing. If a supervisor believes an officer is stoned, they will then be asked to take a drug test. The department says it will provide support and resources for officers who self-disclose substance-use issues and addiction.

      According to a recent report from the Globe and Mail, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) also went the route of implementing a strict timeframe from which its officers must stop consuming cannabis before a shift.  RCMP officers are limited to consuming cannabis no sooner than 28 days prior to a shift—effectively banning the use of the drug for anyone who works more than one day a month.

      The issue with this approach is, unlike alcohol, current drug testing technology is not a scientifically accurate measure of intoxication and, when it comes to weed, time limits to consumption don't show consistent results across all human bodies. Cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), are fat-soluble, meaning they can store in fat cells long after the perceptual effects of cannabis have worn off. Put simply, current tests can show a positive result for weed despite the fact that the test subject is entirely sober.

      The Vancouver Police Department (VPD), on the other hand, opted against setting a timeframe and believes training its officers to responsibly use cannabis will prevent on-duty impairment. The department says officers will be allowed to consume cannabis to their discretion, but are required to show up for their shift fit for work—essentially, not high.

      In a recent public meeting, Drazen Manojlovic, the VPD’s director of the planning, research, and audit section, says this decision was made based on the lack of evidence linking the presence of cannabis in the body to perceived impairment.

      Alongside the revised policy, the VPD also announced an overhaul of training protocols around drug use. In the hopes of deterring negligence and abuse, the department says this “extensive” education campaign is aimed at raising awareness around the effects of cannabis.

      The wave of announcements is a response to the federal legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada, which comes into effect on October 17.