When conjuring up word association images between the terms ‘police’ and ‘cannabis’, odds are people will come up with some type of heavily armed DEA grow-op raid. If that’s not the image that springs to mind, then perhaps it will be something from popular culture, like the comical, mustachioed heel from (insert stoner comedy here) or a wild card, drug addled pit of corruption, such as the titular character in either Bad Lieutenant film.
One image that probably won’t spring up is a battle tested police veteran and family man using medicinal cannabis to treat a legitimate illness, but increasingly, this is becoming the case in Canada.
Over the past year, the amount of active and former RCMP members receiving reimbursement for marijuana prescriptions has more than doubled. According to Montreal’s La Presse, Government documents state that 47 officers obtained marijuana for injuries suffered on the job between 2015 and 2016, using $272,000 worth of medicinal. In 2014, the number of officers was just 20, and the dollar value of medicinal used was just $64,000. The year before that, only $8,000 was spent. It is worth noting that, although the RCMP employs close to 30,000 officers, the amount covered under this particular plan is just over 5,000.
Much of this rise can be attributed to the fact that the number of medicinal marijuana prescriptions among the general population has also risen considerably over the past few years. Police officers can, of course, fall prey to the same illnesses as the rest of us, and when you combine this with easier access t medicinal, it’s only natural that the number would rise.
However, the horrific things police officers encounter in the line of duty makes them susceptible to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than the average citizen, and this may be another reason why they are increasingly seeking out cannabis treatment.
Of course, though we are strong supporters of all forms of medicinal cannabis and believe strongly in the plant’s healing power, there is a downside to the increased usage amongst police officers. These men and women are armed, have a very difficult job to do and often need to make split second decisions, sometimes involving life or death. Though there is nothing wrong with the relatively mild psychoactive effects of marijuana on the general population…having stoned police officers patrolling the streets could be potentially quite dangerous. The RCMP recognizes this, and requires that all active officers with prescriptions for medicinal marijuana to inform their divisional head doctor and refrain from all operational tasks.
But what if there was another way? Non-psychoactive cannabis (CBD derived from hemp) is being increasingly studied as a potential treatment for a number of mental and psychological issues, including PTSD. With further research, we hope this can provide police officers, military personnel, surgeons, truck drivers, children and others who could use the healing power of cannabis without the psychoactive side effects with the medical help they require.
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