Aug 15, 2018. Dutch peackeepers exit a Canadian Forces helicopter in Mali deployed on MINUSMA. New policy for CF personnel say regardless of legalisation of cannabis any Canadian personnel deployed overseas are prohibited from using it. (Cpl Ken Beliwicz)

Canada’s military and legalised cannabis

With the coming legalisation of recreational use of cannabis, Canada’s military has been working to develop a policy to deal with the situation.

A draught policy has just been released by the Department of National Defence with just over a month before legalisation expected on October 17 which will make legal the use of recreational cannabis

The policy basically requires personnel to remain fit and “deployable” and maintain a “state of readiness”   It also requires avoidance of any impairment that would affect safe and effective performance of duty, and has established penalties for misuse.

The new policy also points out the psychological impairments of use which could jeopardise safety and effectiveness of the military member, and the physical effects such as that smoking (anything) can harm the lungs thereby also reducing fitness.

It says meanwhile that consuming cannabis and possession is allowed only if in accordance with all federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws, and any applicable foreign laws but sets a number of restrictions related to service duty.

The new policy also points out that import or export of cannabis, even medicinal, across the Canadian border is illegal. It also notes that  it is illegal to take any cannabis across international borders.

HMCS VANCOUVER turns as the ship heads towards Pearl Harbor during Operation PROJECTION 10 April 2018. New CF policy says there will be no cannabis use in or aboard any DND vessel, vehicle, or aircraft. (Photo: Master Corporal Brent Kenny, MARPAC Imaging Services

As for rules, Canadian Forces members will not be allowed to consume cannabis 8 hours before duty, or expected duty, and none on duty.

Also no consumption during an operation, exercise, or collective training.

Consumption or possession is prohibited while on or in any vessel, aircraft of vehicle, operated by the Department of Defence, or in support of the CF. The policy also states there can be no cannabis consumption during basic training, or on any overseas operation.

In addition to the 8 hour limit prior to duty, more extensive limits are established for specific situations.

There can be no consumption for 24 hours before

  • -handling any weapon or weapons system,
  • -before a scheduled emergency response training exercise,
  • -operation of a vehicle
  • -servicing or testing components of aircraft
  • -parachuting, rapelling, or fast roping exercise, or packing of such equipment
  • -operation of a laser
  • -dealing with bulk fuel

The policy sets a 28 day prohibition prior to

  • -diving, hyperbaric chamber use or operation, service on a submarine
  • -serving as any part of an aircrew
  • -controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)

Cannabis use is totally prohibited during any international operation or posting outside of Canada.

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