Saskatoon police unlikely to face pot smoking ban, says chief

Saskatoon police officers likely won't face a ban on smoking pot like their colleagues in Calgary.

Saskatoon and Prince Albert police services are still working out out policy details\

The Saskatoon Police Service is working on a local policy regarding off-duty use of cannabis by its members. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Saskatoon police officers likely won't face a ban on smoking pot like their colleagues in Calgary.

Marijuana becomes legal in Canada Oct. 17. Calgary police will be forbidden from smoking it at any time, on or off duty.

Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper said his service's policy is not yet in place, but won't likely take Calgary's stance.

"That policy is not developed yet, but I'm assuming it will be consistent with how we address alcohol, which is 'fit for duty,'" he said. 

"If some officer is required to be at work, they have to be fit for duty, whether that's the consumption of alcohol or cannabis."

Regina appears to be considering a similar 'fit for duty' policy for its officers.

"We don't tell our employees they cannot drink alcohol in their own time, away from work," Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said last week in a statement.

"But we do expect our officers to show up for work fit for duty and, on occasions where they do consume alcohol in their spare time, they've acquired it legally and used it legally."

Other major police forces in the country have established clear policies.

Prince Albert police service is still developing a local policy on the subject, while the Moose Jaw Police Service says it will rely on existing provincial regulations which forbid an officer from reporting for duty while under the influence of a drug being used for non-medical purposes.

"We've been managing that situation for years already," said Kevin Pilsworth, the sergeant in charge of Moose Jaw Police's strategic and community service division.

"It's already covered [under the Municipal Police Discipline Regulations] so no point in reinventing the wheel," he added.

Ready for Oct. 17? 

Saskatoon Police has been developing a local policy on off-duty use of marijuana for several months and hopes to have the policy ready in time for Oct. 17.

"It's a draft and I really hesitate to comment on what's in a draft," said Superintendent David Haye on Wednesday. "That could change next week, that could change tomorrow."

Saskatoon Police Superintendent David Haye said the police force hopes to have its policy in place by Oct. 17. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"It's just like any other workplace: you can't come to work if you're impaired by alcohol or a drug, even if the drug is prescription medicine. It's a lot of common sense coming into this," said Haye.

Cooper also said that a cut-off time for how far ahead officers have to stop using the drug before starting a work shift is not being considered. 

In an emailed statement, the Prince Albert Police Service said its policy is still being drafted but will follow closely in line with the policies of the Saskatoon and Regina police services.

with files from Yessica Chavez