Canada imposes 4 week cannabis ban for crew, controllers

Marijuana is now legal in Canada, but Transport Canada is not buying in to the new plan. The agency issued a statement in February indicating that it would not ease restrictions on cannabis use. Today that was reiterated, with a 28-day prohibition on consumption before working as flight crew or a controller.

In its prior assessment Transport Canada cited “scientific consensus” around a lasting impact of cannabis:

Cannabis use can cause immediate impairment but also causes longer-lasting impairment that may not be obvious to the user or to the people around them. Cannabis, like many other substances such as narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, etc., causes impairment that can affect the judgement and actions of members of a flight crew, including pilots. There is scientific consensus regarding the long-lasting effects of cannabis on individuals, even after impairment is no longer felt. However, current tests for the psychoactive chemical in cannabis do not correspond with impairment levels.

The agency did not include reference to any of the scientific research cited in making this decision.

The agency also notes that the policy matches that of the Canadian military. Under those rules members of the military working on aircraft or submarines are also prohibited from consumption for 28 days prior to the work. Those same rules allow for cannabis consumption until 24 hours prior to handling of loaded weapons or ordinance, work as a first responder, aircraft maintenance or fueling, and parachuting out of a plane (below 13,000 feet).

It is also unclear that a traditional urine test will be able to effectively aid in enforcement of this policy.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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