[TPS] – A Statement from Chief Mark Saunders: Cannabis Legalization

Toronto Police Service
News Release

A Statement from Chief Mark Saunders: Cannabis Legalization

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 – 3:58 PM
Office of the Chief

In anticipation of the October 17th legalization of recreational cannabis use across the country under the Cannabis Act, I communicated an interim procedure to members of the Toronto Police Service last week concerning the acceptable use of cannabis for those working in the Service.

The standard I have proposed is that no member be permitted to serve on active duty within 28 days of consuming cannabis. This was the recommended approach that emerged after months of consideration and research by the Service’s internal Cannabis Working Group. Importantly, three principles guided this approach.

First, as members of the largest municipal police service in Canada, we must set a high standard. We are entrusted with the duty to enforce the law and are frequently required to engage in dangerous, stressful situations in order to protect peoples’ well-being. For the safety of the public, and for the safety of those working in the Service, we must ensure that members are always unquestionably fit for duty.

Second, our approach must be guided by science and up-to-date medical research. The science we have relied upon warns us that cannabis is a psychoactive drug that can continue to affect a person’s ability to make good decisions, concentrate, control impulses and rely on memory for up to several weeks after last use. Members need to rely on these very abilities every day.

Finally, we must also be fair and reasonable to those working in the Service, ensuring clarity, transparency, and unqualified expectations during this time of transition – and thereafter.

At the same time, we recognize that there are competing perspectives. This change represents a significant transition, not just for members of the Toronto Police Service but for all Canadians. Consequently, it is reasonable to keep an open mind and to make room for practical considerations, if necessary.

I have invited the Toronto Police Association and the Senior Officers Organization to join the Working Group, to ensure that their views are taken into consideration. I have instructed the Cannabis Working Group to continue its work, reporting back to me no later than April 2019 with an analysis of the existing procedure and a general overview of the impacts legislation has had on the Toronto Police Service. Finally, in keeping with the request of the Toronto Police Services Board at its August meeting, I will be prepared to further update the Board at its next meeting on October 25th.

Going forward it is important for everyone to take the time to educate themselves on legalization.

The Toronto Police Service is initiating a “Do not call 9-1-1” campaign for matters that are not critical. Please see attached files to see how this relates to the legalization of cannabis.

Kevin Masterman, Corporate Communications, for Chief Mark Saunders

Attachments to this release are available on our website.