Stuff co.nz 10 October 2018
Family First Comment: “The association would not take a pro or an anti-legalisation stance in the public debate because its members had to enforce the law, whatever it was.”
Wrong answer. The police should be arguing for an anti-legalisation stance, just as they argue against alcohol outlets and licences.
Whether or not frontline cops can use cannabis and work if legalisation occurs will need to be decided, the Police Association says.
With a referendum looming on legalising the recreational use of cannabis the Police Association is asking members to consider the implications for frontline officers who use the drug if it becomes legal.
Police Association president Chris Cahill raised the issue on Wednesday at the opening in the association’s annual conference exploring the theme “Weeding out the referendum: Policing with a ‘Yes’ vote”.
“From a policing perspective there is another impairment challenge not immediately obvious to this debate, if cannabis is legal cops can use it too.
“The consequences of THC being detected in a drug test following a critical incident such as a police shooting are extremely serious for us,” Cahill said.
Police already had a policy advising that they don’t come to work if affected by alcohol or illegal drugs.
If cannabis became legal, police would need to know exactly where they stood on their own personal use.
“We cannot have [officers] turning up to work believing they are clean, only to test positive for THC following a critical incident that may have occurred days after use of cannabis,” Cahill said.
As for the policing of drug driving, developing a roadside test for cannabis was not as easy as it sounded and was fraught with complications.
These included delays between stopping a driver and taking a blood test, chronic users still testing positive even after 30 days of abstinence, variables in cannabis strength, whether it was inhaled or consumed and the mixing of cannabis with alcohol.
Defining impairment would take serious scientific and legal input and the sooner this insight began, the better, Cahill said.
The association would not take a pro or an anti-legalisation stance in the public debate because its members had to enforce the law, whatever it was.
Responding to criticism from an association member on the devastation wrought by the legalisation of synthetic cannabis, police minister Stuart Nash said very strong arguments could be made for and against legalising genuine cannabis but the issue must be framed around health rather than crime.
The issue of arrested development in young, heavy cannabis users was a concern but the counter to that was the harm caused by gangs and Nash questioned whether it might be better to target synthetics, methamphetamine and the synthetic opiod fentanyl – if it arrived.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/107727589/police-association-asks-what-if-cops-can-legally-use-weed