Montreal police officers will be allowed to smoke cannabis outside of working hours so long as they are “fit for duty” once legalization comes into effect on Oct. 17.
“If for example, one of your colleagues notices that they’re unfit for duty, you know because they seem impaired, they seem dizzy, there’s something wrong,” Insp. André Durocher said.
“That’s how we’re going to go about it.”
The announcement, which was made on Wednesday as the city unveiled its marijuana action plan, is a stark contrast to other policies taken by police forces across Canada.
In Toronto, police officers will be banned from consuming recreational marijuana within 28 days of reporting for duty. The RCMP has adopted a similar tone, barring Mounties from using cannabis one month before any shift.
The rule is stricter in Edmonton, where police officers will not be allowed to consume, smoke or use cannabis at all when it becomes legal next week.
In Montreal, however, a zero-tolerance policy is not part of the city’s approach. Durocher said the “fit for duty” principle is what the police force currently enforces when it comes to the use of any substances — whether that is cannabis, alcohol or medication.
“It’s the same for anything else,” he said.
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Durocher said the city’s marijuana plan was created “according to our culture, our organization and what we think is best,” and that it is the best way to ensure the “safety of our officers and of our population.”
The move comes exactly one week before recreational cannabis becomes legal across the country. Canadians over the age of 18 or 19, depending on the province, will be allowed to buy and possess marijuana.
In Quebec, however, the newly-elected Coalition Avenir Québec government has pledged to raise the age from 18 to 21. The move would mean the province would have the highest age requirement for cannabis across the country.
— With files from Gloria Henriquez, Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press