RCMP will effectively forbid officers from smoking legal cannabis, reports say

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The city of Vancouver's police department has taken a relatively relaxed attitude to the prospect of its officers smoking cannabis (as long as they're off-duty, of course).

VPD officers will be allowed to get high, provided they do so with enough time left before their next shift that they are not still intoxicated when they're scheduled to serve and protect.

"The department opted against setting a timeframe from which to stop consuming before a shift and chose not to subject officers to randomized drug testing," Georgia Straight cannabis editor Piper Courtenay reported on September 28.

In contrast, police officers serving communities such as Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, and Surrey, will essentially be forbidden from smoking cannabis after the recreational use of the drug is legalized in Canada on October 17.

That's because those cities and others plus most smaller towns in British Columbia are policed by the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). And, according to the Globe and Mail, the RCMP has decided to essentially ban its officers from smoking or otherwise consuming cannabis products.

Technically, the rules will say that an RCMP officer can smoke pot, just not within 28 days of an upcoming shift. But most would agree it would be tough for an RCMP officer to make a living if they were only working one day a month.

"The RCMP’s position highlights major differences among federal organizations on the use of cannabis by their employees, as the Canadian Armed Forces have announced that most members will be allowed to consume eight hours before a shift," the Globe's report notes.

In December 2015, the Straight reported that Metro Vancouver's existence as a collection of municipalities—where some are policed by the RCMP and some by independent municipal police forces—has long made for a confusing situation for residents who enjoy the effects of the cannabis plant.

That's because some police departments, such as Vancouver's, essentially stopped harassing people with simple possession charges several years ago. Meanwhile, RCMP detachments in neighbouring municipalities have continued arresting people for holding even very small amounts of marijuana.

With cannabis legalization taking effect later this month, there will finally be a standard set of instructions for how different police departments should approach civilians possessing cannabis. But a patchwork of different rules will apparently continue to  apply to the conduct of police officers across Metro Vancouver.

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