Hamilton police cannabis rules to require officers be “fit for duty”

Hamilton Police Service's yet-to-be-revealed policy on recreational cannabis use will require officers to be "fit for duty."

The policy is in the works and expected to be ready in the "near future," Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman said in an email — but not before Oct. 17 when recreational cannabis becomes legal across the country.

Currently, officers' fitness for duty is covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Police Services Act, she noted.

"Fit for work/duty means that a member is mentally, emotionally and physically able to safely and competently perform assigned duties, without any limitations attributable, but not limited to, illness, injury, fatigue, mental stress or the use and/or after effects of alcohol or drugs," Penman wrote.

Police services across the country are preparing for cannabis legalization next week, including in Vancouver and Ottawa where policies will permit officers to use recreational cannabis as long as they arrive to work "fit for duty."

Hamilton Police Association president Clint Twolan said he's "hopeful" and "confident" the local service will take a "very common-sense approach."

"Fit for duty, to me, is really the only intelligent way to do it," he said.

While he would have liked to have seen the policy prior to legalization as a formality, he's not worried that one likely won't be in effect by Oct. 17.

"My officers are going to come to work like they always do," Twolan said. "I don't think they need a policy in place to say, 'Don't come to work high.'"

Two weeks ago, the Calgary police service announced a complete ban on recreational cannabis use by officers qualified to carry firearms and capable of being operationally deployed.

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