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One month until recreational pot is legal; are first responders ready for the change?

Last Updated Sep 17, 2018 at 6:37 am PDT

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Summary

Legalized recreational marijuana won't mean much of a change from existing HR policies, says Vancouver Fire

Vancouver firefighters not allowed to consume certain substances within 4 hours of a shift

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With exactly a month until recreational marijuana is legalized in Canada, how are groups like the fire and police departments dealing with the pending switch?

Vancouver Fire and Rescue says it’s ready for the change on October 17th.

Since it’s a “safety-sensitive” job, its existing HR policies already cover a lot of ground and don’t really need any major changes.

“Whether they’re legal, whether they’re prescription… if they in any way change your ability, change your behaviour, change your perception — anything like that… employees have restrictions on how close to when they commence a shift that they can be consuming those types of products,” says Vancouver Fire Cpt. Jonathan Gormick.

Much like it has already treated alcohol and prescription drug use, spelled out in those HR policies.

“I can’t see why it would be considered any different than consuming alcohol around a shift. Obviously, we can’t really govern what staff do on their days off, especially if it’s legal. But we do have significant restrictions,” says Gormick.

RELATED: BC to have only one store selling cannabis on first day of legalization

Fire crews are not allowed to use substances within four hours of the beginning of their shift.

“But the caveat to that is there’s also a more subjective part that says you can’t be under the influence in any way, shape, or form,” explains Gormick. “If an employee were to ever arrive at shift and show any signs of impairment or intoxication or altered judgement, they would probably be sent home in an appropriate way for the day and dealt with.”

He adds they don’t regularly require their workers to undergo drug testing. “The only time that would be put in place is if someone had gone through addiction treatment and there was some reason to suspect they weren’t upholding their side of the contract to retain their employment.”

“But for regular employees who aren’t facing that, we have no drug testing in place, nor do we have any plans to implement it.”

The VPD is following a similar path, as is TransLink with its operators.