What Does Legalized Cannabis Mean for Canada’s Military?

By Andrew Wagner
IG: @sdcannablogger

Twitter: @SDCannaBlogger
When thinking of a progressive North American nation, we like to think the United States is pretty progressive. However, our sibling to the north has, on several issues, beaten us to the punch when it comes to responding to its citizens’ concerns. Canada is currently poised to become the first nation in North America to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. A bill, Bill C-45, has been bouncing back and forth between the Senate and House of Commons (Canada’s Congress) for several months that will, if passed, legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Canada. While the average Canadian citizen won’t see too much of a change, but cannabis’s legalization poses a significant challenge to one specific community: the military.
Canada’s military, like ours, has a zero-tolerance policy on illicit drug use. In other words, if you’re caught using an illegal substance while actively serving in the military, you are discharged in the least honorable way possible. With the legalization of cannabis, Canada’s top military bosses have been studying just how to deal with cannabis in the military. The CBC recently interviewed Lt.-Gen Chuck Lamarre, Canada’s chief of military personnel, who outlined just how Canada’s military is preparing for handling cannabis-consuming servicemembers while maintaining operational readiness.
According to Lamarre, the military will not impose an outright ban on cannabis, should legalization pass. In a refreshing wave of common sense, Lamarre told the CBC, “There’s no total ban at this point. We can’t do that. If the law says it’s no longer criminal to have it in your possession, it’s not a criminal act. You just can’t ban it outright.”
A draft policy to address cannabis use is currently sitting in Lamarre’s back pocket in the event Bill C-45 is passed, which looks very likely to happen within the next 8-12 weeks, according to the CBC. This policy will not only affect uniformed servicemembers but also the thousands of civilian employees who support military readiness. This policy will expand upon the Canadian military’s policy on alcohol, which is still subject to restriction and outright ban in some instances. Each branch has been asked to recommend which jobs will be subject to banning/restriction. For example, no one feels safe with a pilot who is drunk/stoned.
Canada’s military has been dealing with cannabis use among its servicemembers for quite some time. According to the CBC, cannabis was the most common substance detected among urine samples. They do not expect a significant increase in cannabis use once legalization takes effect. As Lamarre told the CBC, “I don’t anticipate a whole whack of sparking up.”