The Canadian military has issued new rules on the use of cannabis by troops once recreational marijuana is legalized in the country. The government released a directive detailing the new policy on Friday. Under the regulations, most members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be allowed to use recreational cannabis with some restrictions.
Lt. Gen. Chuck Lamarre, the CAF head of personnel, told the CBC that the new rules governing cannabis use are very clear.
“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,” Lamarre said.
The general also expressed confidence in the women and men of the CAF to maintain the proper level of military readiness.
“We believe our members are very keen on what they’re doing in the Canadian Armed Forces and they have the right ethics and morals to make sure they are available at all times and that they are not impaired by this, or any other substance,” said Lamarre.
New Rules Restrict Use
Under the new rules, CAF members who choose to use recreational cannabis are prohibited from doing so within eight hours of a duty shift. Cannabis may not be consumed within 24 hours of duty that includes the operation of vehicles or weapons. Marijuana use is also prohibited within 28 days of high-altitude parachuting, serving on a military aircraft, or operating in a hyperbaric environment.
The directive also reminds service people that cannabis is still not legal in most parts of the world and that they should be sure to follow all applicable laws.
“Cannabis consumption and possession remain illegal in most countries,” the directive reads. “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. CAF members are responsible for obtaining information about the cannabis consumption and possession laws and policies of any country that they intend to visit.”
Military personnel are also warned that the use of cannabis may have health consequences that might hinder performance.
“CAF members should be aware that cannabis smoke contains many of the same harmful substances as tobacco smoke and therefore can damage lungs and cause bronchitis-like symptoms, coughing and wheezing which, alone or together, can affect their overall physical performance,” the directive says.
Will It Work?
Rory Fowler, a former lieutenant colonel and military lawyer who now practices privately, is concerned with how the new policy on cannabis use will be implemented.
“It appears to be a reasonable response by the Canadian forces to the legalization of marijuana, on its face,” said Fowler.
“My biggest concern is how it’s going to be implemented and how it’s going to be treated by the chain of command,” he added. “Because the chain of command has this instinctive response to cannabis use that, in some ways, strikes me as unreasonable.”
Canada Will Legalize Pot Next Month
The new policy for the use of recreational cannabis by members of the Canadian armed forces goes into effect on October 17. The same day, the recreational use of marijuana will become legal throughout Canada, after the passage of a legalization measure known as Bill C-45 this summer.