No to Drugs for Licensees

The Regulations under the Liquor Licence Act state that a liquor licence holder may not permit a person to “have, use, distribute or sell controlled substances in his or her establishment.” The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act regulates certain dangerous drugs and narcotics (now known as “controlled substances”) such as cocaine and marijuana, among others. Possession of these substances without proper authorization can result in federal charges (this includes the unlawful possession of prescription drugs). As a liquor licence holder, therefore, you cannot permit illegal drug use or drug dealing on your premises. This applies during the operating hours of your establishment and also when the establishment is closed. Even if you and your staff are not personally involved, you can be held accountable for illegal activities in your establishment and must take reasonable steps to prevent illegal drug use and dealing anywhere in your establishment. 

Steps You Can Take 
To discourage the presence of illegal drugs, you can create an environment unsuitable for drug users and dealers by taking the following steps:

• Provide proper lighting to avoid dark corners/ areas.

• Have all tables visible to staff and other patrons.

• Employ and educate security staff. Use reputable security staff.

• Place security in areas of concern (bathroom entrance, side stage doors, entries and exits).

• Refuse entry/service to anyone suspected of participating in the sale or use of illegal drugs on the licensed premises. Eject the individual and contact police.

• Have well-lit and monitored parking areas and outside service areas.

• If you think a member of your staff may be dealing or using drugs on the premises, contact the police for assistance. If necessary, install security cameras to monitor staff/patron activities.

• Create and enforce a strict house policy that clearly states your establishment’s “zero-tolerance” towards illegal drugs.

• Educate your staff on drug awareness. Crime Prevention Officers with your local police service will give presentations on drug identification, trends, etc.

• Watch for gangs as they are often involved in drug use and trafficking. Some gangs identify themselves with coloured bandannas, jackets, boots with coloured laces, tattoos, etc. Suspected gang activity should be reported. Altercations should be dealt with by police!

• Check your premises every night after closing for stashed drugs or weapons, especially in washrooms.

• Drug users cluster in washrooms for access to water (needed for mixing heroin) and privacy. Deny them that privacy and they will go elsewhere. All found drugs or weapons should be reported to police.

• Check for hypodermic needles taped under, behind or inside the water cisterns, behind the toilet bowl, or in a false ceiling. When searching, use your eyes – not your hands – to prevent accidental stabbing.

Behaviours To Watch For Management and employees alike need to be aware of commonly noticed behaviours and methods used by people dealing in and/or using illegal drugs. These include:

• Making frequent trips in and out of the licensed premises.

• Making frequent trips in and out of the licensed premises with different people.

• Passing match boxes, folded money or folded napkins to others.

• Customers who arrive sober but quickly show signs of impairment inconsistent with their alcohol use. This is often caused by mixing drugs with alcohol. This is an important sign to be aware of, especially with female patrons who may be the victims of a tainted beverage. If you suspect or visually see drink tampering, notify authorities as soon as possible and retain possession of the beverage for testing purposes to treat the victim. Ensure the victim’s safety.

• Customers who continually visit the restroom. Restrooms are common havens for drug dealing and use. Check them regularly if drug activity is suspected, especially if you find syringes, needles, small clear plastic bags, burned matches, bottle caps or other drug paraphernalia on the premises. If syringes or needles are found, they should be reported to the police.