With cannabis being legalised in Canada, the country’s military are set to receive instructions about when they are allowed to consume the drug – but they will be allowed to.
According to reports, the Department of National Defence is moving to make the rules clear to its 100,000 members. They will be banned from consuming marijuana eight hours before duty.
In some situations, both consumption and possession of cannabis would be banned, including when a military member is deployed to an international operation, except for a period of authorized leave.
Cannabis would also be banned in any vessel, vehicle and aircraft under the military’s authority. A 24-hour ban will be imposed for members operating or handling loaded firearms or explosives, performing emergency response duty, and loading or maintaining military aircraft; a ban of 28 days to members serving on Canadian submarines, crew members in military aircraft, and drone operators.
The a wide range of restrictions is said to be stricter than the military imposes on alcohol use.
It is interesting to compare the Canadian policy to the approach in other countries. In October 2017 the UK Army was forced to insist that it had not relaxed its drug rules, after it was revealed that new recruits will not be dismissed if they are found to have used drugs within their first 14 weeks of training. Instead of being discharged, young soldiers-in-training who are found to have taken drugs will instead be given a second chance and just moved back. Should they fail on two occasions, they will be discharged.
The decision was taken based on the fact that the army recruits from all parts of society and recognises that some soldiers come from a background where recreational drug use can be common, saying it is “therefore appropriate to combine strict regulation with a focus on education and nurture for new recruits”. Trained soldiers will still be discharged the first time they are found to have taken illegal drugs.
The US Army has been re-examining its approach to cannabis, partly motivated by the need to make it more attractive after significant falls in recruitment. The active duty force available in 1990 was over 2 million, but in 2015 it was barely over 1.3 million.
‘Moral waivers’ allow recruiters to look past certain previous criminal convictions, and records for drug possession is one of the highest moral waivers applied for. You’d still have to give up smoking cannabis to join though, of course.
Many US veterens use cannabis to treat PTSD, and many have turned to it instead of the more addictive opioids they have been prescribed. The first person to legally purchase recreational cannabis in Colorado was a veteran with PTSD. PTSD still isn’t recognised as a condition that cannabis helps, despite the wide claims by veterans, but an FDA approved study may change that.
In Italy, where medicinal cannabis is legal, cultivation of cannabis is a de facto army monopoly…