Top 10 things to Consider when Using Cannabis in the Military
When Canada legalized recreational marijuana use in Oct. 2018, employers across the country had to determine policies that acknowledged the rights of employees to smoke pot legally while balancing concerns around safety and performance in the workplace. For some, like police forces, they de facto extended the prohibition of cannabis use for safety and liability concerns. For the Canadian Armed Forces, they recognized that it would be impossible to stop soldiers, sailors, and air crew from lighting up and became the first army in the world to provide guidance on acceptable cannabis use for soldiers.
1. Can I use cannabis and be a soldier?
Yes! The Canadian Armed Forces allows you to use cannabis while serving subject to certain restriction and guidelines. If you want to light up after a long day of ruck marching to take your mind off your blistered feet and sore back, go for it!
2. You can’t get high on duty
Just like alcohol, you cannot consume cannabis while on duty or 8 hours before going on duty. If you show up to work high, or drunk, you risk being charged under the QR&O (Queen’s Regulations and Orders) and could end up in a summary trial and could be fined, imprisoned, or punished in a range of other terrible ways unique to the military (confined to barracks, extra drill, etc.).
3. You can smoke in uniform
The military has a long tradition of allowing members to wind down with a cold drink in the mess at the end of a day. It is no different if you would like to light up a figurative cannon with your buddies.
4.Take you headgear off when smoking
Same as cigarettes, wearing your beret when smoking is bad uniform etiquette and may invite a scolding from a warrant officer who should chill out and join you for a smoke!
5. No smoking 24 hours before weapons handling
If you want to show off your moves with a Carl-Gustaf or a Browning 9mm, make sure you haven’t smoked in the past 24 hours. For safety reasons, the military wants a little more recovery time before you start sending rounds down range.
6. Skydiving and Weed don’t mix
If you are skydiving or rappelling, give yourself 24 hours of no cannabis. Also, if you are packing your or someone else’s parachute or supporting someone else’s rappelling activities, no glassy or red eyes please!
7. Too high or too low
If you are parachuting from a height of 13,000 ft (3962m), serving in an airborne vehicle or in a diving submarine, your cannabis use is restricted to 28 days beforehand.
8. You have your own pot circle
Due to restrictions on cannabis use and various activities or operations, there are designated cannabis smoking areas on all bases. These are separated from designated cigarette smoking areas to ensure no one unwitting gets high on second hand smoke.
9. No smoking on International or Domestic Operations or Exercises
Being in the field sucks. In the old days, the army knew this and you could get away with a lot more. These days, not so much. If you are operational either domestically or internationally, no cannabis allowed.
10. Be Safe!
If you ever find yourself accidentally high or burnt out with grenades strapped to your vest and a C9 light machine gun over your shoulder while your sergeant is yelling commands over live fire, something has gone terribly wrong. Talk to your Chain of Command and let them know you’re not up to it and sit this one out. If you find your cannabis use is causing you problems, talk to your padre or call the CAF Support Line which is open 24/7.