Liquor-loving cops wage war on marijuana users
Last week, I wrote about the hypocrisy of politicians and public figures who endorse and promote alcohol use, while seeking to punish and shame those who make the safer choice to use marijuana. This same pro-booze double-standard is also promoted by the RCMP and other police forces across Canada.
From the earliest days of marijuana prohibition, the RCMP have been the primary advocates for our national war on marijuana users. The RCMP tirelessly lobby the government for stricter laws and
Since Harper came to power, the RCMP have further increased their efforts against pot smokers, with a 30% rise in possession busts nationwide. Their anti-pot campaign has been strongest in BC, where RCMP have doubled the number of possession busts – provincial taxpayers are now paying $10.5 million dollars a year to detain, charge and convict marijuana users.
Yet while they devote ever more overtime hours to targeting pot smokers, the RCMP is awash with alcohol. Over 60% of RCMP admit to having three to seven drinks a day, and there is clearly a pervasive culture which accepts and promotes alcohol use within our national police force.
Like political parties, the RCMP often uses alcohol as a fundraising tool, thereby promoting heavier use. Also, RCMP go out of their way to ensure their officers have easy access to booze at work.
Pretty much every major police headquarters in Canada has a liquor license, and provides alcohol to officers from morning til late at night. Police don’t like to talk about it, but most officers have regular access to free-flowing alcohol in their workplace.
In Toronto, the police bar doesn’t even seem to follow standard liquor laws. Officers don’t need to pay for their purchases; booze is provided on the honour system, with officers kicking in at the end of the month.
THE RCMP’S ALCOHOL CULTURE
The RCMP seemed perplexed that anyone would mind them serving alcohol throughout the day. After all, they said, they’ve been doing this for decades, and they even had a safe ride program where drunk Mounties could take a taxi home for free. Yet drinking and driving is only one of the many risks of alcohol use. Alcohol consumption is linked to aggressive behaviour, domestic violence, addiction and risk of injury. The more easy access there is to alcohol, the more likely these kinds of problems are to occur.
According to Carlton University Criminology Professor Darryl Davies, “alcohol use is deeply embedded in the RCMP’s culture.” And when it comes to officers with alcohol related problems, Davies says “it appears the RCMP goes out of its way to mitigate the penalty.”
Of course I’m not calling for a ban on alcohol. Even though alcohol use often leads to all kinds of health and social problems, those problems would only be worsened with alcohol prohibition. The best way to deal with alcohol use is within a legal, regulated system. Part of that system should be to discourage the use of alcohol at the workplace, especially for armed public safety figures like the RCMP.
If police officers choose to drink alcohol in their home or a local pub, in a responsible manner and on their own time, that should be their own business. But that same sensible policy of responsible, off-duty use should also apply to any adults, including police, that choose to make the safer choice and use marijuana instead.
We can start right here in British Columbia. Visit Sensible BC and find out how.