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Can cops smoke weed in Canada?

Can cops smoke weed in Canada?

After legalization of cannabis in October 2018, off-duty police officers in some cities were allowed to smoke cannabis. They are still required to be fit for duty, i.e., they cannot come to the job while intoxicated, but they are definitely allowed to!

Are cops allowed to smoke weed in every city in Canada?

When legalization first happened, a few cities allowed cops to consume cannabis outside of working hours. These cities included Vancouver, London, and Ottawa. The most important thing for those cities was that officers reported to work fit for duty. As long as they were not stoned on the job, they were allowed to consume recreational cannabis. 

Other cities, like Calgary and Toronto, had stricter rules around police officers and cannabis. In Toronto, officers are not allowed to use recreational cannabis within 28 days of reporting for duty. Presumably this means that if they took a long enough vacation, they could legally consume cannabis and continue to work as a police officer. However, this rule most precludes Torontonian officers from consuming cannabis in their free time. In Calgary and Edmonton, officers were not permitted to partake in cannabis use at all. 

Have the laws around police smoking cannabis changed since legalization?

Yes! Some of the cities that once had strict laws, like Calgary, have since changed their policies. In 2022, Calgary lifted the ban on officers smoking cannabis in their free time. This has allowed officers to consume recreational cannabis during their free time. Again, as long as they report for duty in a sober state, they will be allowed to continue to work.

Can RCMP use cannabis?

The RCMP continues to have a complete ban on cannabis use. On the RCMP workplace substance use policy section of their website, they state that employees in “safety-sensitive” positions cannot use medicinal or recreational cannabis 28 days prior to reporting for their duty. 

It is interesting to consider what the RCMP would not consider a safety-sensitive position, given their stated position of investigating crime and activities related to national security. 

Why can cops smoke weed?

Allowing officers to consume cannabis while off-duty is believed to be the best approach to this situation. This is because consumption of cannabis is a legal activity, similar to drinking alcohol. Not allowing police officers to smoke cannabis in their free time creates an environment in which police officers are implicitly told that cannabis use is bad, or illegal. This might result in prejudice towards users of cannabis in other situations where smoking weed is irrelevant. 

Can I still be arrested for cannabis use in Canada?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it depends on the amount that you have, and – realistically – the culture of the city or municipality that you live in. Possession over the limit (30 grams of dried flower) is still punishable by jail time, depending on the amount that you have. Illegal distribution or sale is also still punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Unfortunately, though the law has been changed to allow for recreational use, there are still many possible criminal dangers of possession of cannabis in Canada.

This is why it might be important to consider whether police in a specific city are allowed to consume cannabis in their off time or not. In cities where cannabis (a legal product) is prohibited for use by cops, the culture may more strongly penalize people who find themselves on the wrong side of the 30 grams of legally-allowed possession. What message is being sent to the police officers of a city when they are prohibited from smoking cannabis? Certainly not one of open acceptance of the legal recreational use of the product. 

Why are some police officers not allowed to smoke cannabis?

Spokespeople for the various police organizations that prohibit cannabis use have given multiple reasons that provide questionable justification. One said, “in the interest of officer and public safety, the service has taken an abstinence approach for marijuana use both on and off duty.” 

Cannabis consumers should consider their city’s stated policy towards police smoking or consuming cannabis, because it sends a clear message about the administration’s support of recreational cannabis overall. 

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