Calgary police union files grievance over marijuana policy

File: Calgary Police Service car. File/Global News

The union representing Calgary’s police officers has filed a grievance over the Calgary Police Service’s policy regarding cannabis use, saying it “exceeds management rights.”

The grievance, filed by the Calgary Police Association on Thursday, takes issue with the zero-tolerance policy the CPS announced for officers last month.

READ MORE: Calgary police officers to be banned from consuming marijuana off duty

Ahead of legalization, the police service said officers that were qualified to use a handgun and available for duty could not use marijuana whether on or off duty.

“We’ve had a lot of blowback from members,” Calgary Police Association president Les Kaminski said Friday. “I’ve had members call me and say, ‘Look I’m not going to use, but I’m certainly not really happy with the idea of my employer telling me what I can and cannot do with a legal substance on my own time.’”

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Kaminski said he’s gotten “hundreds of texts, phone calls [and] emails” from concerned officers.

The police service already has a policy in place when it comes to alcohol and prescription drugs, which states officers have to be fit for duty when reporting for work. He would like to see the same framework used for cannabis.

“Marijuana’s now entered into the equation and suddenly all these new rules have been put into place where members already understand that if they show up unfit for duty, they face very, very stiff sanctions already.”

READ MORE: 17 Alberta shops will sell cannabis on 1st day of legalization

Kaminski said part of the issue is the stigma that still exists around marijuana despite the fact that it’s legal.

Kaminski also raised the concern that a police officer could become contaminated by second-hand marijuana smoke and, if they’re selected for a test my management, could test positive for THC and face disciplinary action.

He said the CPS reached out and wants to have a sit-down meeting with the association, which would also include representatives from the city.

“That’s absolutely what our goal is, to open up the lines of communication so that we can get this ironed out,” Kaminski said. “Perhaps we can get things fixed so we don’t have to proceed with the grievance and we can withdraw it.”

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In an emailed statement from the CPS, spokesperson Michael Nunn said “given that there are now ongoing legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

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