National Defence releases new cannabis policy for Canadian Armed Forces members

A new cannabis policy for Canada’s military will come into effect on legalization day this Oct. 17.

While it will soon be legal for Canadian Armed Forces members to consume cannabis in certain circumstances, the policy will seriously restrict use.

“My first priority is operational readiness, and I expect everyone to act responsibly and according to the constraints outlined in our policy,” Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance said on Sept. 7.

According to the new policy, released this week, Canadian Air Force members “must not engage in any misuse of cannabis,” and doing so “will be dealt with through the most appropriate administrative or disciplinary action, or both.”

Supervisors will be making their observations to determine if someone is high based on a number of factors, including smell, “unusual talkativeness,” slow reaction, inattention, poor co-ordination or anxiety.

Members will not be allowed to use cannabis eight hours before duty, or during.

That time period rises to 24 hours of being expected to operate a weapon, a scheduled base emergency response duty, an operational of training exercises, operation of a wheeled or tracked vehicle, parachuting, rappelling, fast roping activities, and more.

And that rises to 28 days for those in “safety sensitive” positions including operating in a hyperbaric environment (such as diving or submarine service), high altitude parachuting, serving as a member of a military aircraft, controlling or directing an aerospace platform or operating an unmanned aerial system.

There is an outright ban on cannabis use or possession when members are on an international operation, exercise or collective training, other than any period of authorized leave in Canada.

Other prohibitions include not using or possessing cannabis while in or on any vessel, vehicle or aircraft, military or civilian.

The policy states it does not affect the right of a member who has been authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes, but that those individuals must communicate with their supervisors how their ability to perform a duty is affected as a result.

It also states that “cannabis consumption and possession remain illegal in most countries. CAF members could be denied entry to these countries as a result of their cannabis consumption or involvement in the legal cannabis industry in Canada.”

Members are “responsible for obtaining information about the cannabis consumption and possession laws and policies of any country that they intend to visit,” under the new policy.

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