Toronto police in Canada unveiled one of the country’s most restrictive policies for cannabis use in law enforcement Tuesday, banning all of its employees from using recreational cannabis within 28 days of reporting for duty.
“We have not come to this decision lightly,” said a statement released by the force Tuesday. “It was made thoughtfully and based on sound advice and evidence, considering the critical role members play in ensuring a safe workplace and a safe community.”
The policy mirrors that reportedly being considered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which has been criticized as “outright prohibition” by the president of the Canadian Police Association.
Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said the 28-day period is based on research from the force’s medical advisory service, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police about how long THC — the active ingredient in cannabis — can be stored in the body and the varying impact it can have on cognitive abilities, motor functions and decision-making abilities.
The policy does not provide for random drug testing, Gray said, but officers will continue to be assessed for fitness for duty by supervisors in a similar manner to alcohol and tested for cannabis if there is “reasonable suspicion” or in a post-incident scenario.
The testing could include the use of drug recognition evaluators or a contracted out drug testing service. If police officers are exposed to cannabis on the job or during their personal time, there is a procedure to disclose that. The policy does not apply to medical marijuana users, who are accommodated under a different policy, Gray said.