RCMP Contemplates Lenient Cannabis Policy to Attract New Recruits

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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are contemplating a downscale in regulation, currently demanding their officers and a large portion of their personnel to abstain from using recreational cannabis for a span of four weeks before they commence their duty.

This five-year-old policy may soon undergo a revision, aligning the RCMP with other police forces possessing lenient stances on the use of marijuana. This modification could serve as an asset in appealing to potential new recruits.

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Instead of maintaining the four-week regulation, an internal briefing of the RCMP suggests a cannabis-free window of 24 hours prior to their shift, while still allowing for exceptions to this rule.

The present policy, implemented following the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in 2018, is under scrutiny. Yet, the final decision rests undetermined as per Robin Percival, RCMP’s spokesperson.

The policy, as it stands now, requires officers, reservists, firearm technicians, telecommunication operators, and other safety-sensitive RCMP employees to refrain from using non-medicinal cannabis for 28 days before duty.

The RCMP’s 2018 substance use policy was borne out of a holistic review of operations. It was shaped to accommodate the diverse work environments of the Mounties, ranging from first responders in different locales across Canada or on-call services to remote regions.

The policy underscores the need for RCMP personnel to be unimpaired by substances like alcohol or drugs, ensuring their readiness for duty. According to the notice on RCMP’s website, the effects of cannabis can linger beyond the initial consumption, with no scientifically established parameters on its impact on work performance or safe consumption limits.

Taylor, 32, eyes this potential policy shift with keen interest. He has long harbored a desire to be part of the RCMP, but as a frequent user of recreational cannabis, he finds the current restrictions cumbersome. He uses cannabis as a stress reliever or to ease minor discomforts.

Having grown up in British Columbia, his respect for the RCMP originates from his family’s admiration for the police force and their vital role in society. Taylor is optimistic about updates to the RCMP’s cannabis policy that would align with the evolving times.

With the RCMP reconsidering its stance, Taylor is eager to become a Mountie. He mentioned that if the policy does change, he would apply to the force immediately. Regardless of the final policy, he will respect it due to his aspiration to join the RCMP ranks. However, a more relaxed stance would certainly increase his sense of contentment.

A note prepared for RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme in Spring 2023 indicates that the risk of cannabis impairment is subjective, depending on the consumer’s pattern of usage and product quality. The allegation rate for known impairment from 18,000 regular members over the past five years is a miniscule 0.15%.

Several police forces have already adopted a 24-hour no-use policy or a combined approach of this regulation and the ‘fit for duty’ requirement. This note also mentions that inquiries about the cannabis policy are quite common during RCMP recruitment sessions.

Plans to apply a proposed 24-hour restriction on recreational cannabis use to all safety-sensitive positions excludes certain specialized occupational groups. Positions with an utmost need for sober decision-making, such as pilots, air marshals, emergency response team members, and protective details for prominent individuals like the prime minister or the governor general, would still need to adopt a stringent approach.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.