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Canadian Armed Forces Announce New Marijuana Regulations For Military Personnel

Soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces will be allowed to consume cannabis once it becomes legal on October 17 of this year.

It won't be quite as easy for military personnel to smoke a joint as it will be to grab a beer, but recreational marijuana won't be banned outright either in the Canadian Armed Forces' new cannabis policy.

"We've made the policy document very explicit as to when it can be used and when it cannot be used, and who is prohibited from using, and we go to a large extent to protect our operational capability," Lt.-Gen. Chuck Lamarre - Head of Personnel for the Canadian Military - told CBC.

In general, military personnel will not be allowed to consume cannabis within eight hours of reporting for duty. But those restrictions can be more severe depending on someone's position within the armed forces. Anyone involved in firefighting, providing medical services or handling weapons and munitions must not touch marijuana for a full 24 hours before work. Meanwhile, pilots, submariners, search-and-rescue technicians and others have to abstain from cannabis for up to 28 days before reporting for duty.

Total abstinence is required while on training and on operations, whether they be at home or abroad.

Those rules are reasonable according to former Lt.-Col.Rory Fowler, who now runs a private law practice. But he is nevertheless concerned that commanders will struggle to adjust to the more lenient policy.

"It appears to be a reasonable response by the Canadian Forces to the legalization of marijuana," Fowler told CBC. "My biggest concern is how it's going to be implemented and how it's going to be treated by the chain of command. Because the chain of command has this instinctive response to cannabis use that, in some ways, strikes me as unreasonable."

The military has committed to annual reviews of their marijuana policies that will take recent research and law changes into account. So it's possible that the rules will become stricter or more lax down the road.


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